Friday, September 28, 2007

My accident with The Accidental Buddhist

I killed a bug tonight--squished him with the tip of my index finger--on page 31 of Dinty Moore's The Accidental Buddhist, right over the word "for" in the sentence,

"Bouncing from my zafu as if my buttocks were metal springs
and sprinting for the line once more, I come in second, just behind Wayne."

The "insecto-cide" was involuntary, having only meant to brush the offending bug from the page, but the force of my clumsy finger proved too great, and I ended up putting a small brown smudge across Dinty's fine words. The irony of smashing a bug onto the page of a book about Buddhism was not lost on me, and I actually laughed out-loud, a moment of insensitivity about which I still feel the tiniest twinge of guilt.

I don't remember when I started really caring about insects, spiders, mice, and other small creatures but it had to be sometime after age 11 because I remember when I was 10 that my brother and I spent the better part of a week feeding ants to spiders who spun their webs in the twisted poles of a wrought-iron gate outside an old home my father was remodeling. We helped Dad move lumber, hold tools, and run electrical cords but there was only so much my brother and I could do so while we stood around waiting to be helpful we found ways to keep ourselves busy. The spiders were fat, the ants were scared, and we were entertained.

As an even younger boy I can remember filling mason jars with hose water and turning the jars upside down over the tops of bumble bees that were collecting pollen from dandelions in our backyard. It surprised me how long the bumble bees would last buzzing underwater like furry, spasmodic fish.

But something happened as I got older. I heard a story about a group of Mormon pioneers shooting squirrels out of a tree for sport, and their leader Joseph Smith stopping them, scolding them, and saying something like, "Don't hurt even the smallest of creatures if you don't have to." I'm not exactly sure how the story went, but that's how I remember it now, and though it was hardly profound when I heard it as a teenager, it still affected me. It simply hadn't occurred to me that small creatures deserved our respect. I started opening the window and coaxing house flies to freedom, sometime spending several minutes guiding the mindless insect to fresh air. I decided that I would never hunt for sport (not a terribly difficult decision since no one I knew ever went hunting), and I devoted myself to the defense of small creatures everywhere. On more than one occasion, full of all the self-righteousness my teenage body could muster, I scolded my insect-smashing friends for their hedonism, and my sister, who routinely called me into her room to deal with a spider on the ceiling that she knew would crawl all over her in the middle of the night, had to deal with me trapping the spider with a paper plate and a plastic cup so I could carry it outside and shake it into the lawn.

There is one animal however, who has never, and will never receive any sympathy from me. The cockroach. During three years of living in Japan I had enough run-ins with roaches to know they were undeserving of any special treatment. In fact it just took once opening the silverware drawer to retrieve a spoon and getting a scurrying, oily cockroach instead for me to realize how much I HATE COCKROACHES.

I marvel at the scriptures I believe in, the truths they want me to accept. The flood--no problem. Jonah and the whale, I'll buy that. Samson and Delilah, Isaac and Abraham, sure. But there's one story in Genesis chapter two--one part, actually, of the creation story --that dumbfounds me.

18 ¶ And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field;

Adam, our first father, the first prophet, the first man on the earth got to name all the animals on the planet and when the cockroach came up for naming, he didn't raise his hand, and say something like, "Um, are we sure about this one? I mean come on." Where was the cockroach's place in paradise? Even in the garden of innocence, one would think Adam might have been able pick out the cockroach for the bottom dwelling parasite it would become.

Perhaps that's why our Father in Heaven, with his infinite wisdom, had Adam preview the animals before the whole forbidden fruit incident. He did create the cockroach after all, and who am I to question divine design (Among the first questions I think I will ask upon arriving in Heaven will be, 'What was the cockroach's role anyway?') Perhaps Adam and Eve, during those first hours of blinking mortality on the outskirts of Eden--with there new found awareness of good and evil, virtue and vice, joy and sorrow--were thinking differently about their garden, the tulips and tigers and each other. And maybe Adam thought of the cockroach, and the words of God's curse came back to him, and for the first time Adam thought he might know what enmity and sorrow really meant.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Art for Art's Sake: Gizmo

Some kids books are fun for kids but a little on the slow side for us readers of the books. Some kids books really seem more geared for adults, I find myself thinking, "What were they thinking? Does this excite anybody who could be classified as a kid?" But a new book out this year wins my vote; fun for kids and fun for me! Phrases like "teetered topsy-turvily", "a mingle-mangle of intricate jury-rigged gimcrackery" and "some kind of gadgety whatchamacallit thingamajig" and words like "collapsion," "dereliction" and "dinosauri" make it fun to read and listen to. I have to admit I don't know what "nubbins" or "sproings" are, but it makes me want to find out! In this story Prof. Ludwig von Glink's experimental house/machine gets a little out of control, but in the end it's saved from demolition by the City Contemporary Art Museum 'for arts sake". Hooray for art! And if you find out what an "umbra" is, let me know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine

I really like to cook, especially fun new recipes that I think are healthy and tasty at the same time. I've never shared them on the blog, but maybe I ought to! Last night's Chicken Tagine got rave family reviews, so here it is! Well, all except Nolan. We gave him cut up pieces of the squash on his tray which he squished in his fingers and scrunched up his face, stuck out his little tongue, and shook his head, all without even putting it into his mouth. When we tried to slide in a bite, he dodged us right and left and shook his head vigorously . It was hilarious!

Photo from

I was pleasantly surprised to find this Moroccan recipe among the Downhome American types in Good Housekeeping.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine
1 medium (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 clove(s) garlic, crushed with press
1 can(s) (15- to 19-ounce) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup(s) chicken broth
1/3 cup(s) raisins
2 teaspoon(s) ground coriander
2 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1/4 teaspoon(s) pepper
3 pound(s) bone-in skinless chicken thighs
1 box(es) (10-ounce) plain couscous
1/2 cup(s) pitted green olives

  1. In 6-quart slow cooker, combine squash, tomatoes, onion, garlic, beans, broth, and raisins. In cup, combine coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and ground black pepper. Rub spice mixture all over chicken thighs; place chicken on top of vegetable mixture. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook as manufacturer directs, on low 8 hours or on high 4 hours.
  2. About 10 minutes before serving, prepare couscous as label directs.
  3. To serve, fluff couscous with fork. Stir olives into chicken mixture. Serve chicken mixture over couscous.

*I didn't put in the green olives and I used quinoa instead of couscous, yum!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Firetruck Birthday

Earlier this week we started looking at cake ideas for Callan's Birthday. I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner but on Thursday Callan said, "a Firetruck Cake!"
So we found a firetruck cake recipe on FamilyFun. There was only one problem: Red Frosting. For one, it just tastes gross. I remember when the first Burgerville opened in my home town growing up, they served cake with red flowers on top. YUCK. My mouth remembers it well. And for another, how much Red #40 chemical dye does it take to make frosting fire engine red? I was not interested in buying 6 cups of red frosting, or trying to figure out how to use food dye to make my homemade white frosting turn chemical red. Callan's broad knowledge of firetrucks solved the problem when we suggested an airport firetruck (they're usually yellow and spray foam instead of water). Then we realized we had green dye and Joey suggested a forest service "forest fire firetruck." Callan thought that was the coolest idea and by the time we finished making the cake he had decided the green firetruck could do it all, airport, forest fires, and house fires.

Who knew black Twizzlers and spice drops could be so versatile? That's all we used to decorate the cake (oh, and a few Oreos). FUN! Callan wanted to eat it right away, but it stayed in the fridge all night until after dinner tonight. And the fact that cake was funfetti cake and we ate it with bubble gum ice cream made Callan nearly bubble over with excitement.

Before all that colored sugar, we had these for dinner!

Happy Birthday Callan! We love you!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

And even more Portland fun!

Callan got to see where Mom and Dad got married!

The house I grew up in on 5th Ave.

Rose Gardens

There were so many places we wanted to stop and visit. Since Joey and I both grew up in Portland, just driving through town brought back floods of memories. We did get to stop the Rose Gardens on our way to the Rehearsal Dinner. It was gorgeous!

Me and the mini construction worker

Uncle Tom and Callan surrounded by GREEN at the Rose Gardens

I was pleasantly surprised that the roses were still in bloom at the Rose Gardens. And of course it was beautifully overcast!

Lisa, Jason, Addy, and Mom Franklin at the grass amphitheatre

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The main reason we went to Oregon

Lots and lots of family!

It's been YEARS since all the siblings got together in the same place

Congratulations Misha and Chad!

Flying to Oregon!

Flying to Portland!

The kiddos even slept for an while, Joey and I got to do the crossword. What a treat!

It was and easy trip all around: happy kids, relatively empty plane, lots of snacks, fun stuff to play with and just a little turbulence. Who says flying with kids has to be so rough!?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

How to Make Me Nervous

1. Welcome me to the new branch
2. Introduce me to Br. Organ-Performance-Professor

4. Ask me to play this in Church every week!

It didn't go off without a hitch today, there were quite a few hitches. But it didn't even come close to the horrible dream I had a few months ago. In my dream I had completely forgotten about playing the organ, showed up late to church, ran up to rescue some volunteer who was trying to play the opening song, and tried to remember the song without the music. Then I kept hitting the wrong pedals, couldn't remember the song, everyone stopped singing, I went to the pulpit, apologized profusely and ran out of the church crying and saying I would never step foot in there again! In reality it could probably never get that bad, but at least I have something to compare it too on the rough days!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A few more pictures

Callan painting a picture today. He switched to markers for a few minutes, but something about markers makes him forget where the paper stops and where the table begins. We had to find a new activity after he'd started drawing on the table legs.

Callan's new bed is a camping cot with a thick pad--just the right size for him and ducky to read a few stories together. The narrow cot does make story time a little bit more difficult, although I did manage to fall asleep next to him today during story time before nap. The cinder block wall in this picture makes Callan's room look a little bit like a prison cell--yikes.

I think this picture was taken in Utah, but its cute, so I thought I'd include it. In addition to cruising on all the furniture, Nolan is enjoying wearing shoes now and wishes we'd let me play in the toilet, or at least under the sink, or maybe with some scissors, or perhaps eat grapes whole, or something dangerous, but we just won't let him.

So we sold just about everything we owned before we came to Ohio, but we sent 1o boxes full of books, toys, and a few office odds and ends through the U.S. postal service. 9 of the boxes have arrived, seven of which where delivered to our door. However, two were delivered on an afternoon we weren't around, so the mailman put two boxes in the package containers out by the mail box. I'm not sure how he got them in there because I had, as can be seen by this picture, a really hard time getting them out. Still they've arrived, and we've filled up our new book shelves, and its beginning to feel like home around here.

Nolan's adjusting to our new place


We took this little video when our apartment was still mostly empty. We did, however, have a booster seat for Nolan, which meant we could strap him down and put some food in front of him, keeping him off the floor and out of reach of the assortment of esophagus sized flotsam that has been drifting around our floor since we moved in. These brief periods of baby confinement have been the only times we've really been able to get any work done, since with Nolan on the floor its all we can do to keep him from putting every last thing he finds on the floor into his mouth. Callan has done his part to help keep Nolan busy, and finally we have the entire apartment more or less baby proof.

Still Nolan seems to gravitate toward the most unsafe places in our home, mainly the bathroom and our bed (the bed itself is fine, but the linoleum floor all around it worries us), and he gets very frustrated with us when we remove him from either place. His own mobility is becoming a liability as he is learning the limits of his own perception. Just today though he figured out how to turn around on our bed and slide off legs first, rather than go head first like he has tried in the past.

That makes us worry a little less when he sleeps on our bed, but he's still a long way from being safe around the house.

WE bought Callan some new underwear this week, which left us wondering what to do with the old pairs.