Friday, March 30, 2007

P + J 4 Ever

I'm bursting with a secret...Jasper and I are in love.
Don't tell! We have to keep it hidden.
We were "out" about it for a while, but Annie and Bill really hated it.
Annie'd try to get on my lap whenever I pet him or talked to him.
Bill would just crate him. Annie said she hated Jasper! Every time I let him in the front door, Bill would let him out the back door.

So we went underground.
We try not to flaunt it in front of Bill and hand holding, kissing, or baby talk. I don't want trigger any more jealous feelings or competition, comparisons, or measuring of my affections. We steal away to take walks at night, or early in the morning, and we try not to gaze lovingly at each other across the room. Right now he's under the table with his head secretly resting on my feet. Mmmmmmm.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Walk A Mile

I originally published this post about my Mom, Annie, last Summer. Then, in December I sadly lost all of my blog and archives. ( Ugh ) This is one of the posts I was most sad to lose. Luckily while cleaning up some old files recently, I found a copy of it and I'm happy to republish it now, the fifth anniversary of her dying.

Her feet hurt for years. At the time it didn't seem so alarming to me. She'd go long periods when she wouldn't even mention it, and I thought that her feet weren't an issue anymore.
She'd gotten a few different diagnosis over the years. Planter fascistis was one of them. Then bone spurs. She followed each treatment plan until it was obvious that they weren't helping. At the beginning of each treatment, she'd feel hopeful and seem to get some relief, then she would fall back into pain that was almost debilitating. I only know that the pain was that severe from reading her journals after she died.
For years, she looked at her feet from different medical perspectives. A chiropractic angle, an acupuncture angle, with her M.D., and even from the psychological angle with a therapist. I remember her talking about her exploration. "I'm looking at my feet pain symbolically as it relates to my literal path in life" kinda stuff. She wore special prescription orthotic inserts in her shoes and that helped. Kinda. Then she thought that maybe the perfect orthotic/shoe combo would be the ticket, and she tried many brands of well-made shoes. Since we wore the same size, she kept me in almost-new European shoes for years. Somehow though, each pair and each combo was "not quite right." I worried. In well-made shoes. Once we worked a trade show together in New Orleans in '96 and she could barely touch them after a day on the showroom floor. Actually, it might go back as far as a trade show we did in Minnesota. I remember that she stayed in the hotel room one day because her feet hurt so bad. Hmm.

Looking back, I think I lumped her search for a cure for her feet in with her search for the perfect purse to replace her beloved purse Martha. Kinda quirky I thought. I also judged her relationship with her hair (cut, color, plucking and fussing) to be slightly obsessive too.

Now that I look back, she must have kept her suffering pretty private, talking about it when she was either on the mend, or had a new plan of attack. I wonder if her feet were telling her something was wrong.? I keep thinking about what her Oncologist said not long after her diagnosis in 2000. He said that colon cancer is one of the slowest growing cancers, and that it was very possible that it had been growing for ten years or more. Could her feet pain have been alerting her to the growing cancer in her colon? I still don't know.

GeorgeAnne "Annie" Sieler


The photo above was taken in 1972.
Is it just me or isn't she absolutely beautiful?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Why I Haven't Been Posting

Watching Annie learn to spell.

Decorating for Easter.
A Day at the beach with Eva and Stella.
Rearranging our dollhouses.
Making ginger-shrimp pot stickers with Sara.
Keeping up with housekeeping.
A great park day with homeschoolers and their Mama's.
Hanging out our laundry to dry in the sun.
A wonderful dinner date with Dana.
Finally finishing Thank You cards from Annie's Birthday.
Numerous and very cozy jammie days.
Doing a few graphic design and advertising projects with Joan.
A walk downtown and yummy Indian food with Sara.
Learning some sign language with Annie.
Going through closets, drawers, garage, studio and releasing stuff to Goodwill.
Riding our bikes.
Training Annie's snake to eat frozen baby mice instead of live.

Listening to Annie sing "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover" with intense pleasure.
Enjoying my new rug!
Getting current with Annie's B&W photo album.
Getting foot rubs from Billy.
Eating tacos with the Prior women.
Thinking a lot about my mom.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Brand New Day

Annie pulled out her wiggly tooth this morning at about 10:30. She is ecstatic! I was amazed when she decided to just yank it out, and then did! In my mind this first tooth marks the entering of a whole new phase of growth and development. I'm feeling simultaneously delighted and a little weepy today... she isn't a little little girl anymore, and I'm thrilled to see her thriving and growing so beautifully.

As a way to mark the occasion, we decided to make an extra delicious brunch and celebrate. Annie collected eggs from the hens for a scramble, we brewed some extra special tea with honey, and made some fresh scones. The scones were really, really yummy and easy to make so I'll include the recipe here if you want to try them.

Oh yeah, Annie asked me to make a note to the toothfairy for her that says she wants a first aid kit so that she can care for any animals that get injured. Bill went to the drug store and got her one so we can tuck it under her pillow tonight.

Scone Recipe

2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup cold unsalted butter

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream or yogurt or milk

I also added dried cranberries.


1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon cream or milk

Preheat to 375. Line pan with parchment. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut in butter until pea size. Mix wet ingredients in a measuring cup, then pour over dry ingredients until mixed. Don't over mix. Form into a ball, flatten to about 1 1/2" high, 7" wide round and cut into triangles. Brush with glaze. Bake 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and tops are starting to brown.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Nana Insists on Bathing the Children

As you can see here, Jasper really watches over Annie in almost everything she does. He's especially attentive when she's in the bath. He's actually hovering over her right now, as she sings and plays in there, much like you would imagine Nana doing in the Darling household. I even thought I heard him whisper to her to wash behind her ears! Annie just got out of the bath and is at my elbow right now, wrapped in a towel, insisting that I tell you all the she has a very wiggly tooth. Her first wiggly tooth! It wiggles A LOT already! We're guessing it will be out within a day or two.
Wow! Tooth fairies, Leprechauns, and Shamrocks Oh My!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Magic Carpet Ride

In the grand scheme I know this is just a tiny little thing, but I've been trying to replace my living room carpet for months with no success. We have a little house so this carpet features prominently, so I want something harmonious, lively and well made. I've returned two carpets already. (If you're curious, this one and this one.) Both would have created a huge domino effect, probably an entire redesign of my downstairs and I like what I have going on! I guess the two I chose were attempts to inject just a taste of freshness,
keep the look I've got.

The whole rug replacement started last October, when our dog Jasper took a small bottle of bleach out of the laundry room and brought it onto the living room and left it there. On the wool carpet! I guess he got a taste of what was inside when he bit into it, so he walked away and it bled into three saucer-size marks. Well today I bought a third carpet (the one Annie is laying on above), and it's not right either Urgh! At least Annie and I had a great day today, driving through the California green hills to the rug store. So...I will return this third rug and go ahead and order the rug that is close to what I have now (the one Annie is laying on below.) Maybe I'll look for some fabric for new pillows. That way I could inject some of the freshness I'm craving without tipping that first domino.

I'm a little self conscious about how trivial and house-wifeish this post sounds...

Below you will find a short dance number, directed, choreographed, and starring Annie. I feature very subltly as background noise, as I sifted (slap, whoosh, slap) through every carpet on the huge hanging racks.

Better Than Candy...Anywhere

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Four More Things About Me

Four Jobs I've Had

1. Teenage salad and dessert girl, Boulder House Restaurant

2. Entertainment industry graphic designer

3. Small business owner, Houseworks

4. Residential mural painter

Four Movies I'd Watch Again and Again

The Quiet Man starring Maureen O'Hara

2. Any Merchant Ivory production

3. My Life as a Dog - Lasse Hallstrom

4. Babette's Feast

Four Places I've Lived

1.Born in Berkeley, California

2. Raised in Santa Cruz Mountains, California

3. Colleged in Pasadena, California

4. Worked in Santa Monica, California

Four TV Shows I'll Watch

1. 60 minutes

2. The Dog Wisperer

3. Designed to Sell

4. Flip This House

Four Blogs I Like to Visit

Big + Little

2. No Appropriate Behavior

3. Little Birds

4. Green Kitchen

Four Foods I Like

1. Spinach & Onions

2. Freshly laid eggs

3. Anything Billy cooks

4. Chocolate & Nuts

Four Places I'd Like to go to Again

1. The west coast of Ireland

2. Ubud, Indonesia

3. Swimming in a cenote in the Yucatan

4. Joshua Tree in the Spring

Sunday, March 4, 2007

No Words Needed

A family. Of my own. Closeness. Saftey. Warmth.
All I ever wanted, really.
To care for. To be cared for. Faces I just love to look at.
Messy, funny, loud and unpredictable.
Hold me Mama!
So sweet and warm.

Voices I love to hear.
No words needed. Understanding.
Unbearable feelings of love as they run towards me,
eager to share new found shells.

Happy to head home. Cozy. Unmade beds. Smell of sleep.


I want to say a big thank you to Marsha over there in Japan, for doing her HTML magic and installing this new header for my blog. THANK YOU MARSHA! I know you have a lot on your plate with your impending move back to the states, as well as everyday life, so I am really appreciating that you took the time to help me out!

Friday, March 2, 2007

Thanks Janet...

Annie's Aunt Janet sent her an almost life-size Barbie make-up head thing for her birthday. Ugh! Cheap make-up and a narrow ideal of feminine beauty all in one gift! Hmmmm. I was delighted to see Annie trying out a more "tribal" make-up look on herself than the packaging was suggesting. (See above photo!) I hope she can continue to find her own definition of beauty as she grows!

Maybe you're saying to yourself, "Oh don't overreact Patrice... she's just a little girl having fun!" Yes, she is a little girl, and even with limited access to media, I see she's getting the media message. If you look skinny you'll be happier! If you just buy _______ you'll feel satisfaction! Just yesterday, Annie expressed to me how she wants to look skinny. Wow!? I asked her why, and she said that she wanted to be a princess and that princesses are skinny. Ugh! She's never really seen much princess stuff at all! So, I tried to guess what it was she was after.

"Hmmm, are you wanting to feel special, and cared about?"


"Are you wanting to have fun and attention?"


Then I asked her if she thought that girls that were bigger were as happy as the smaller girls, and she said


Whoa! How to proceed? I'm not sure. All I know is that I will continue to share with her what I value, and
I value very highly the intrinsic...caring for my own and others feelings and needs, caring for the earth, following my heart, listening to my gut...and that's what brings me peace, happiness and beauty.

WIP Friday

I bought some interesting body products for Annie as stocking stuffers in December, and tucked them away so cleverly that I just recently found them! One was a bath "tea" bag called Milky Oats. Wow! Annie and I soaked in it, and it smelled great, plus it left our skin soft and moist. Also, we found that if you put it in the fridge between uses, it seems to last for three baths or more. Well, we were so delighted with the bath tea that we've been concocting our own version ever since. We use the following organic ingredients:

Calendula Flowers, Lavender, Roses, Chamomile, Oatmeal, Dried Buttermilk, drops of Kiel's China Flowers Oil, and a splash of Epsom Salt (I don't think that's organic...hmmm.)

Here's how we did it...We took all the ingredients and mixed them together in a bowl. Then you can either make little bags out of fabric,
(see bottom photo) or you can buy the little muslin bags you get at the health food store, (which are shown in photo above.) You might notice, I added a little fabric to jazz up the store bought one's. We finished up by wrapping each finished tea bag in a bit of plastic wrap to preserve the scent and freshness of the ingredients. I wish I could post the scent of these little bags. Mmmmmm.