skeleton (of the big, fat secret sort)

I had intended to leave you with Monday Words today as I have been neglecting them of late.  Instead, recent developments have led me in another direction. Given the fact that I am fairly dead certain that none of my siblings read this blog, I feel pretty safe in what I’m about to write. And if they do, well, then I guess it was time.

When I was seven years old, I choked on a cough drop.  My mom shook me by the ankles and dislodged it, but it must have freaked her out, because she said something along of the lines of  “I have something to tell you.  Your dad is not your dad”.  I remember the last part vividly.  I also remember beginning to cry without knowing why, that knowing this was a pretty big deal.  She asked why I was crying and I can remember not being able to explain it, and also knowing that this was probably not a good thing.  I probably mumbled something and she let it go. She would have been 27 or 28.

I don’t remember it coming up again until middle school and the obligatory family tree assignment. Not knowing what else to do, I used my dad’s side of the family. My dad being the man my mom married when I was 8 months old and whom I thought was my father.  She said to me that I probably shouldn’t use his side since that freaked him out, but no mention was made of what side to use.  Strangely, I don’t recall how that assignment ended. Years went by, and I didn’t broach the subject again until college.  Probably time passing had something to do with it, but I felt like I should probably find out something about the other half of me.  One night I called my mom and just asked outright.  I always felt like she didn’t want to talk about it, and even that perhaps something bad had happened.  She told me he was a 40 year old mechanic she met in Portland.  I think that was all she said that night, though she did say I could ask other questions, I felt like that was enough for now.

Fast forward to when I had the Girl Child.  Now family medical history comes into it, so I brought it up again, and she gave me a few more details – a name.  This was 12 years ago, and I didn’t find much on the internet.  I’d check again from time to time.  Then for some reason it came up when talking to my mom a couple of years ago, and she told me all kinds of stuff.  He was a good cook, and liked to dance. He’d been in the war. He was married.  When my mom found out she was pregnant, they decided he should go back to his wife, though I think he did see me once.    Armed with all this new info, I went back to the interweb.  Turns out his name was not as unusual as I thought, at least not in the midwest.  Now that I knew of a few places where he’d lived, I could weed out the ones who didn’t fit til I eventually found the right one.  And I hit the mother lode when I found a military achivist in Iowa.  She sent me a couple news articles about when he got married and when he was injured in the war.  They had a photo. And you could have knocked me over with a feather.

I had just been looking at the photo of the day we got Jack. And we looked spookily alike.  After more sleuthing, I found out he had 4 kids with his first wife, 1 daughter with his second.  There could be more like me.  I found a man’s genealogy work online who is related to me 5 generations ago (and lives in Puyallup!) – he contacted me and said he had once met some cousins at a family reunion.  There were 7 brothers and 3 sisters – all dead now – but his second wife is still alive.  My mom said she knew about me – I wonder if his children did.

I also found out he died in 2004, too soon for me to find him.  I never had any visions of a heartfelt meeting;  I just wanted him to know I’d turned out all right. I would have asked if he thought about me or my mom.  I have his obituary – I know what he looked like as an old man.  I know that he liked to fish and mow the lawn and had a couple grandkids.  He had his own life, but I wonder if he ever thought about our life.

About those recent developments.  I am the oldest of 4 kids.  My brother is 8 years younger and has suddenly become interested in genealogy.  He’s been asking my Mom questions – which makes sense since she has done genealogy research forever.  Now, however, she’s wondering if it is time to let the cat out of the bag.  You see, none of my siblings know about this. I have never discussed it with anyone but my mom, though I do wish I had the balls to bring it up with my grandmothers when they were alive.  It might seem strange, but I have never talked about it with my dad, either. His was never a touchy-feely family, and honestly at this point, it would be kinda freaky. My dad’s sister is still alive, but she has never mentioned how his family felt when he turned with this hoochie and her kid.   Maybe the opportunity will come up at some point before it’s too late.

My mom always thought it was just “our business.”   My sister said something once when she was pregnant out of wedlock 18 years ago, about how Mom “should know how this feels”.  She’d seen the wedding certificate, a ceremony that took place in 1968, not 1967 when I was born, and assumed we  had the same fathers. I didn’t set her straight then, just told her she had no idea what she was talking about. I recently started a genealogy chart on Ancestry.  My brother will see our maternal grandparents and great-grandparents if he follows the hints the site provides.  I imagine the shoe will drop soon.

It shouldn’t change anything for them – their dad is still their father.  Yes, technically we are half-siblings, but this isn’t about them.  My mom did the best she could and what she thought was right. I hope they see it that way.

snickerdoodle dandy

Hello, my poppets.  I promised baking in the mental upkeep department, so here you go. Today’s output: snickerdoodles.  Which I have to say I am fond of even more especially for their name.  It’s fun to say and I am easily amused.

I’ve tried a few recipes and not been won over.  Then I discovered in my very own cookbook library TWO recipes, both from Rosie’s Delicious and Decadent Dessert Book.  I have two of her books, and not had a bad thing baked from either of them.  Thoroughly recommend.  I must admit that when I went to start mixing today, I could not for the LIFE of me remember which of the two recipes I’d made before!  They are next to each in the book so I opted for the one with more stuff splattered on the page.  It does differ slightly from the other, more traditional recipe because that one calls for cream of tartar and this one uses baking powder.  I guess now I’ll have to try that next to make sure which is better.

It’s a pretty straight-forward recipe, handy for when the cookie urge strikes since odds are you probably already have what you need on hand.  Now, my brilliant flash of inspiration for these did not turn out as expected.  As you may recall, snickerdoodles are coated in cinnamon-sugary goodness. My grand plan was to use my good Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon in place of the Costco kind.  Penzey’s sells all manner of spectacular spices and herbs, and just recently opened a STORE in downtown Seattle!  Used to be I had to mail order this stuff.

good stuff

Anyhoo.  I mixed the good cinnamon in the sugar, rolled the cookies, baked and…well, I think it was just too intense.  It ended up being kinda burned.  Sad face.  Grand plan fail.  So  for the next batch, back to the garden variety cinnamon and sugar.  Probably coulda used a higher cinnamon to sugar ratio,  but not burned at least.  Guessing you can tell which is which.


As for tinkering, I’d like to try a version where the cinnamon is mixed in and the balls are coated in sanding sugar.  I’d also like to make some bigger, flatter versions for filling with lemon or blackberry ice cream.  But these will do just fine for now.

Baker’s Best Snickerdoodles

From Rosie’s Delicious and Decadent Dessert Book, where she credits Michael Baker from Baker’s Best with the recipe

(I’ve condensed the instructions, assuming you people have made a cookie or two, because I’m lazy and it’s not rocket science)

3 cups all purpose flour

1 T plus 1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 t sugar

1 cup butter at room temp

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line baking sheets with parchment or grease baking sheets.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Combine cinnamon and 2 teaspsoons sugar in small bowl.

Cream butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar and vanilla til light and fluffy, stopping to scrape bowl.  Add eggs and beat til blended.

Add half flour mixture and beat on low for 10 seconds.  Scrape bowl and add remaining flour, beat 25 seconds.

Measure rounded scoops of dough (I used a small scoop), roll in cinnamon sugar.  (I flattened mine slightly).  Bake til risen and slightly cracked.  Recipe says 16 -18 minutes, which was WAY too long for mine.  9-10 was just fine.

Eat.  Enjoy.  Maybe with an oatmeal cookie shot.  Or milk.

march on

The last two Marches have not been good to me.  Which is a shame, because I am a fan of spring and would prefer to be enjoying it.  Last March we were dealing with the lease meltdown.  This March it’s a combination of things – sales down, mechanical issues on the home front costing money, and almost more aggravating, people issues. I hate unnecessary drama, despite what some people might think.  When it involves people you really thought were your friends, it becomes even harder to reconcile.  It sucks the life right out of me.

This morning I decided enough is enough.  No more gnashing of teeth over what I have no control over.  I am done letting the stress take me over.  Time to take back March!  Sales are what they are – there is not much I can do about that.  The people thing – well, that is not up to me to fix, and apparently the people who should do the fixing have no desire to do so.  People change, and not always for the better.  So though it goes against every grain in me,  I will Let. It. Go.

I will instead go through my fabric and make things.  A skirt for spring or a new bag.  I will pull weeds and plant new garden babies.  I will declutter (in the garage and in my brain).  I will pressure wash like hell.  I will menu plan. I will bake cake pops and cheesecake. I will celebrate birthdays. I will purge the Boy Child’s crack den of a room. I will  prepare to have a teenage daughter. I will have a cocktail in the sun with people who make me laugh.

I will make the most of the last days of this sucky March.  And April, well, it will rock.

spring is sprung

Yesterday the sun came out briefly for the first real day of spring, so I put some of the plants I got from Tilth’s early edible sale in the ground. Lettuces, arugula, spinach.  Also picked up some herbs for the window boxes.

Tom Thumb butter lettuce

Red sage

In mini-makeover news, this little spot in the front of our driveway by the mailbox needs some help.  There used to be a big lilac here, but in the big snow storm two years ago, some guy spun out into our mailbox and took it out, along with the lilac.  Our neighbor got money from the insurance company for a new tree, but it has yet to be planted.  So me and the Boy Child plucked out these weeds and moved a big hunk of grass from the front bed.  Before…



Not perfect, but it killed two birds with one stone – a new home for the grass ( and some new lavender scored from the Tilth sale) and this section is a wee bit less ugly.  I’ll pop some annuals in there for color later.  Most of the weeds we pulled were stinky bob babies, the bane of my existence.  They are much easier to pull early in the spring and far less stinky.  We have them EVERYWHERE.

Elsewhere in the yard, more signs of spring…

i forget what this is called - some type of euphorbia?

flowering quince (i think) - it's huge and here long before us

some sort of viburnum

I planted this last year - you'd think I'd remember the name. Spirea?


star magnolia – smells so good when it blooms!

Maybe my favorite plant in my garden is Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick. I have two.  In the spring they get gnarly green leaves, but they look cool in the winter too when you can see their crazy branches and their yellow catkins.


A few weeks ago I planted a few bulbs and ranunculus by the front door.  Check out the colors on these babies!  So vivid!


hyacinth from heaven



Baby steps so far in the yard.  But there are plans afoot for a trip to Flower World and starts from Farmer Fels to go along with all the work that needs to happen in the backyard.  Now if only the sun would come and stay for awhile.  It makes margaritas in the yard so much more pleasant.

getting my flea on

So last weekend I went to So Cal to meet up with some friends.  We timed it so that we could cross an item off our bucket lists – visiting the grandaddy of all flea markets: The motherloving ROSE BOWL!!

It happens the second Sunday of every month.  We opted to go after the crazies (read: dealers) so we showed up around 9:30.  It was already pretty packed.

Insert angels singing

the people watching was almost as good as the loot

Holy moly, people.  Even JWR, who I spent many a Saturday with up at the antique mall on Aurora but who doesn’t really feel the “thrifting” love, was impressed.  I wished they handed out maps, or aerial views at least. We knew it was huge, but we really had no way to get our bearings. We went up and down the rows as best we could.  There was ALL MANNER OF THINGS.



get it?! a C AND i'm in the picture!

I was DROOLING over the mid-century furniture.  If I lived there AND had the space and money, there was probably 5 pieces that would have gone home with me.

come to mama

plethora o goodies

sofa. seriously.

desk of awesome

Of course, along with the fabulous, there was a fair amount of just plain weird.

phone home...

hmm. i didn't get this one.

Of course, I HAD to come home with something!  And it couldn’t be anything big – it had to fit in my carry-on.  Luckily, in the first few minutes, I found this – for $8.  I tried to find out more about it, but I came up empty.  The ONLY other Sylvia Hood Original I found on Ebay was a pair of figurines.  I did find out that it’s called chalkware.  And that there apparently bigger versions of this out there.  It may not even be worth $8 – I don’t care.  I love it and the fact that it says Pasadena is the best part.

who. who.

owl bottom

As always, I’m a sucker for anything in a mid-century frame, so I picked this up for $10.  It’s signed “Kufler” and on the back says “Austria 1942” in handwriting.  Also couldn’t find anything about this on the interweb but I love it anyway.  It goes with the painting I scored at the Salvation Army.

Austria 1942

The sheer volume and variety of stuff was amazing. And overwhelming.  Just when we were ready to call it good (maybe having walked a third of it?), we discovered BEER!  YES!  They are smart, these organizers.  The men following their women folk were especially grateful when we told them where they could find this magic elixir.  And in California, you can walk around with it!

beer break

I don’t who that chick is on the left, but considering the man we got to take the photo barely spoke English, I wasn’t going to argue.  And for you Seattleites, check out the flip flops!  In March!  Definitely worth another trip.  When I have a bigger suitcase. Or a U Haul.

gin and girls

It’s been a rough couple weeks.  The kind where the stress starts to take you over, where it all adds up and you can’t quite get ahead.  Where there is a constant lump in your throat from things piling up and out, one after another.  Nothing devastating – my roof isn’t 10 miles out to sea.  Just the kind of thing where it turns out some people you may have thought were actually your friends, the kind you can count on, turn out not to be.  Where maybe they’ve changed without your noticing til it’s too late and now you’re in a pickle.  And maybe your car is making increasingly alarming noises and your furnace only works when it feels like it.  And maybe you’re not selling as much beer as you should be.

And then, when you aren’t so sure how much more you can take, that maybe you really have reached the limit, you have a gin and tonic with your girls.  There is talk and much laughter all around.  They are appalled and indignant on your behalf, and you on theirs.  The laughing frees the stress held in and the gin makes the burden lighter.  Nothing else has changed – the supposed “friends” make no effort to fix the mess and the car still makes the noises.  But when you get home, Glee is on.  Kurt and Blaine kiss and your son says something funny.  Two boys kissing is normal to him. There is nothing to explain.  It occurs to you briefly that you are relieved that he sees this in case he turns out to like boys.  You are grateful that your family is all in this room and healthy.

You realize that the stress sucks, yes.  But it is nothing that can’t be overcome, that all the big stuff is safe.  That the “friends”  have lost, not you, that your real friends are intact and priceless.  That cars and furnaces can be fixed.  That you are surrounded by things and people that matter. And that this too shall pass.


This week marks two important anniversaries.  Today is the one year anniversary of The Troubles at the Roanoke, when we first began the long journey of dealing with the lease mess, documented here, here,  and here.  On this day a year ago, we had NO idea that it would take the twists and turns that it did.  One year later, we have a lease and soldier on trying to make a go of it in this economy.  I sure wouldn’t mind worrying about TOO MUCH money instead of not enough – someday hopefully.  In the meantime, we are, as ever, grateful for the support and love constantly on display while we struggled through the lease nightmare.  It boggles my mind still.  Looking back on that time, it’s a wonder one or the both of us didn’t end in the hospital from stress. It’s amazing what the human mind and body can put up with when put to the test.

Secondly, Saturday makes one year of Foible and Folly, this self-indulgent little blog.  It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that long.  Thanks for reading these ramblings – according to the stat counter, there are a few actual readers when you weed out the spam referrers.  Thanks especially to the commenters – it’s the only way I know if something resonates.

As with The Roanoke, I am still working on Foible and Folly, trying to make them great. I am thankful to have each in my life and for your support, love and faith.

spring is springing (nearly)

Still a few weeks away from official Spring, but out in my hot mess of a yard, I see evidence of its imminent arrival.  There is much work to be done, for sure.  Don’t even get me started on the back yard – “hot mess” is generous – but we do have plans for it.  Sort of. Until spring (and sun!) actually arrive, these will have to tide me over.


Crandall Black Currant - bought last year at Tilth's Early Edible Sale

Patty's Plum poppy - from Annie's Annuals last year - and check out my phat labels!


Lady bird yellow poppy - not sure this bloomed last year so I'm keeping an eye on it

Raspberry! I actually got fruit off these last year! From Swansons bare root sale

I can’t WAIT for it to warm up and dry out so we can get going on cleaning up, transplanting and putting new things in the ground.  BIG plans for the backyard and some rearranging in the front too.  Time to show no mercy!

monday words #4

Yeah, I know it’s Tuesday.  Deal with it.

Another one of my favorite poets is Emily Dickinson.  In high school, I thought it was fascinating how she rarely left the house and maintained contact with the outside world only through correspondence.

Hope is the thing with feathers 

by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.