kids “help” in the kitchen

I hide mixers like I would rat poisin from Rex.  We have been cooking and baking a lot lately, but sometimes I don’t want the “help”  ( Cut to child screaming, “I wanted to crack the egg, I wanted to crack the egg.”)

Here was very simple little exercise in cooking and economics with my kids ( note my slippers.  Could I be more white trash?)

I was making a pound cake and playing beat the clock yesterday.  Must- get -this-done-before-Rex-sees-mixer.”  If he sees it then he wants to do stuff and I’m worried about his little fingers going in the kitchen aid, and keeping track of who put in what last.  Plus, putting in baking powder does not have the same cache as 1) cracking eggs or 2) pouring in sugar.  The latter because he snatches some back for himself.  Then he and Vivien fight over the chairs they are standing on and I think, hmm, what’s a matter with buying a box of factory made cookies?  Oh, that’s right I’m giving them a great childhood memory.

Joan Rivers: a moment must be paid

I loved her when I was a little girl watching Johnny Carson.

So  brave.  Such guts.  I know people got made at her sometime, but guess what if you don’t have an edge you are Josh Groban, you aren’t a comic who makes people pee in their pants.  She always made fun of herself as well.

AN ORIGINAL

AN ORIGINAL

I was the direct beneficiary of her talent.  After she and her daughter left TV Guide where she blazed the trail of red carpet review they started another red carpet show The Fashion Team with my co host David Evangelista.  Later they brought in Lawrence Zarian.  The show was a blast to do.  fashion team with daphne brogdon and lawrence zarian Did I get to ever live coverage like she did?  No, I never got why, however it was a cushy gig.  Sitting in a studio all made up making fun of people.  I made jokes about celeb clothes and fashion trends.  Looks for less, fashion mommy must haves.  My kids both modeled on the show.  vivien peel modeling on tv

Rex and his mom "Kate Gosselin"

Rex and his mom “Kate Gosselin”

But, there was only one Joan.  Her daughter came on once in one of our early episodes.  It was not a warm event.  But, it didn’t change how I felt about Joan.

I saw her live in a play at Geffen playhouse not that long ago.  She was great.  So much energy.  Back in the ’70′s my parents interviewed her– they did some freelance journalism.  They loved her.  She was very smart.  She was promoting the film she directed Billy Crystal in “The Rabbit Test” about a pregnant man.

Let’s remember her delivery.  Someone can write a good joke, but the way she delivered it.. and would just not let up.  So funny.   I’m really going to miss her. Her nearest creative heir is Kathy Griffin.  But, she doesn’t make fun of herself the way Joan did.  But, creativity is so personal.  I really thought Joan Rivers would go on longer.  But, there never would have been a good time for her to leave the stage and I’m glad she was working till the end.

I can’t help but think…The last few weeks have been really tough on great comics.  Shouldn’t someone go check on Jim Carrey? Does someone need to walk Billy Crystal home?

when do boys sit down for dinner?

“My family always sits together for a family meal.” You will NOT hear that coming out of my mouth.  More than once  a week and Mark and I would be opening a vein.  Why?  It’s unpleasant.   I remember a few years ago when I was so happy baby Rex settled down for a restaurant meal.

But, it was rare enough that unless we owned the restaurant I didn’t try it much.  But, even worse is at home.  He throws off his clothes, refuses to eat, starts bugging his sister.  Why did I think his development would be on an upward trajectory?  Naive again! If he would keep his clothes on I could get that on video too.

I think he actually does better with the pressure of a public situation.  It’s just a more expensive alternative.

Hold me I’m frightened…

Rex started kindergarten.  I was surprised by my reaction.  Felt fine.  Till we crossed the threshold of the campus that was filled the chaos and crowds of Kuala Lumpur right before the Japanese approached. Then I wanted to cry.  Sob.  My tough boy was gripping my hand as I said my hellos.  I kept indicating without words how I felt so as not to upset Rex. ( Finger from corner of eye down, tear).

on the way to school.  Support from his sister

on the way to school. Support from his sister

At one point a nice mom spoke to me about something unrelated.  I nodded politely, but she might as well have had burning hair on her head as I couldn’t make out what she said.  “I’m in CRISIS right now”  I thought.

The last few days he had been saying “I want to stay in pre school.”  I can’t say the truth.  I do too. You are right.  It’s all down hill from here.  Until you get your drivers license and feel someone up sexually.

Happily They only have half days for the start.  So I took him out to celebrate.  Sweets, natch.  cupcakes

I was squeezing the last bit of summer I could out of this truncated season.  I do not believe it is right that children begin school before Congress is back in session. Totally messed up.  So, now that Labor day is no longer sacred we traveled till the 11th hour.  We spent the last 10 days glamping it through California.  A family reunion with American and Dutch family was like a dream commune existence, but with continental breakfast.  Kids jumped out of bed to safely play with extended cousins while we slept in and leisurely made some coffee before we hiked, swam, drank beer.

a few of us who discovered some vineyards

a few of us who discovered some vineyards

" eat this, my dad's a chef

” eat this, my dad’s a chef

in case Mark and I lost each other, we had name tags.

in case Mark and I lost each other, we had name tags.

 

Off to my family’s annual pilgrimage to Yosemite.  I love it so.

Rex finds his own perch

Rex finds his own perch

That $600 in swim lessons paid off.  First summer with out a float vest.

always somewhere to climb

always somewhere to climb

Side bar,  one interesting thing I noticed in Yosemite this year.. no, not low water, brown grass and over priced bland food, I expected that, but there were so many foreigners.  I don’t mean to sound Archie Bunker, and I know it’s  a world wide destination, but there were more Europeans there than any year I can remember.  I offered to take photos for so many German tourists I was afraid the French and British visitors would brand me as a collaborator.  Later when we were at the Lodge in the valley a French woman was complaining to the hostess at the Mountain Room Broiler ( they call it grill, but whatever it was called in 1978 is what I call it) Oh, I’m from Culver City and I know it’s not great.  If you were from France, oy!  I had to interject.  “It’s not good, no where around here is going to be good.”  The hostess smiled, while French lady looked unbelieving.  I found her husband outside, “I just talked to your wife.  Tell her we all know the food is not very good in the park.” Blank face.  I should have just offered to take their picture.

Rex loves the cafeteria there.  He calls it the “Room with all the food.”  Me:” the cafeteria?”  ie, that dump?  “Yes, mommy I love it!”

We played in the river.  We saw deer. deer in yosemiteyosemite with kids

Rex ran naked through the fields and woods. I brought my wine, so it was all good to me. I got no cell reception–yippiee!  That’s living.

One day we went to the pioneer village and watched a Blacksmith work. kids and blacksmitth I have rarely seen my kids so fascinated and focused on the 3 dimensional world.  I didn’t prattle on about my love of Laura Ingalls Wilder, just in my inner voice.stagecoachWhen I take the winding road in or out of Yosemite I marvel at the people of yore who came there on horseback and coach.  10 minutes in a stage coach and I needed a kidney transplant.  How did they do it?  When we left I offered to take my kids to the Mariposa Grove to see the big redwoods.  Rex has been talking about big trees for two years since we went through a deep forest near the Oregon border.  “NO”  They screamed.  They were worn out.

45 minutes later.  “You guys let’s say we get lunch in Fresno and go back to school shopping.”  The back seat cheered.  I cheered to be in a smaller scale city with a Macy’s I could practically park in front of the door, everything was on sale and they called me ma’m.  Big city living can be tasking, nice to be in  a medium market.

So, we are the brink of day 2 of Kinder.  “How was it Rex?”

“Horrible and sort of awesome.”  I told Mark that Rex said he is afraid of not having friends.  Mark looked up, ” I’m still worried about that.”  I think that’s why it does choke me up.  We all feel uneasy going into a new space, new people, but as we age we learn to shove the feelings down, or mask them.  But, we know our little ones are still open, vulnerable.  Will he be ok?  Probably.  But, it’s also the beginning of me not being able to fix things in his life.  The separating.  My heart breaks a little. Wish we could get back on the road where I feel somewhat in control.

 

Picked another winner

Last night GeorgeMckenna won the school board seat in LA for District one.  Mark and I were there.daphne brogdon and george mckenna victory

My cute partner in crime

My cute partner in crime

Happy the experienced guy won and the Mark Ridley Thomas machine did not prevail.  But, what did we eat?  They served some good Caribbean food.  Good we ate before we walked in the room because it was Louisiana hot in there.

when it looked like victory...  ah, where is the media consultant.. why the blank wall?

when it looked like victory… ah, where is the media consultant.. why the blank wall?

Think they didn’t have the campaign funds for A/C.  But, good vibes mixed with the heat as the results came in he was ahead from the start– barely, but never lost the lead.

with our friend retired Councilman Nate Holden

with our friend retired Councilman Nate Holden

Of course hardly anyone voted so in the end though he won by about 6%, that was only 1,800 votes. In a city our size that’s tiny.  But, hey, a special election in summer?  To be expected.

"Mey Ms. Waters can I get a picture?" We use to live near her. "Where are you now?" She asked.

“Hey, Ms. Waters can I get a picture?” We use to live near her. “Where are you now?” She asked.

The event we had for him a couple of weeks before went well. I was sweating with A/C trying to  get bodies there.  Summer vacations, apathy and resistance to a nuanced political strategy made it hard to get people to commit.  But, in the end I got the numbers I wanted.

The candidate speaks in my family room

The candidate speaks in my family room

It was a fun party and it was good mix of people. Folks were charmed and impressed by Dr. Mckenna when he spoke and everyone loved Mark’s grilled cheese.

grilled cheese fuels democracy

grilled cheese fuels democracy

Daphne Brogdon's mckenna event

The opening act

I was really touched by a few old friends who came or volunteered and loved seeing new faces.  I think it’s great for our kids to see us involved in our community. But I won’t kid you, I’m glad it’s over.  Oh wait… this was just the special election!  Next year it happens again.  Honey, warm up the grill!

Me, Nate, actress Lisa Raye McCoye, Mckenna, Mark, Jan Perry

Me, Nate, actress Lisa Raye McCoye, Mckenna, Mark, Jan Perry

Accelerated Math Summer

Was on the fence about pushing Viv into this… but once we got going it’s like going halfway around a lake, you got to finish it!  It’s been a chore for all involved.

I’m not sure, is math harder now, or is did I have such an alternative education that I was at Bette Davis double feature when this stuff was being taught?

almost at the end...

almost at the end…

stop me before I volunteer, again

 

I think I have a problem.

I can’t stop volunteering.

A few months ago I was elected head of my neighborhood association.  10 Saturdays out of the year I run the meetings, bring the refreshments and in general voice the concerns of our community to the city.  So far I threw a block party, longwood block partyhelped get some trees planted, advocated for some issues with our local councilmanherb wesson with constituents , and got a website up.

The jewel in my unpaid work history was my mayoral appointment to the Central Area Planning Committee.  Roughly twice a month I am one vote on planning issues that come before us.  I get to go to city hall and I have a laminated pass.  Never has anyone felt so excited to be accepted as a civil servant. Maybe because of all the years of freelancing, I like going to an important building with a clip on badge and working.. albeit with no salary.commissioner Brogdon

I’m also on a few committee’s for my daughter’s school. ( charter, underfunded).  So I take some interest in the school board races.  There are few that do.  It’s pretty un sexy, but in LA we have a mammoth school district and unlike other cities the mayor and the council have no control over them.  So, it’s a whole other empire.  Charter’s, while somewhat apart from regular public schools, still must be granted their charter through the school district.  So, the LA school board is “our” school board as well.   Teacher’s unions tend to not like charters because the teacher’s are outside of the union.  Charter’s are suspicious of teacher’s unions and afraid they will try to shut them down.

My take on all this is that parent’s are discerning consumers of education.  So, charter’s magnets, traditional, private they will be existing with each other. But, we need to put our best foot forward. There are people in our area who would be interested in going to the local public school, but they don’t offer tours.  “Why?’  is what we have heard more than once when calling the school…that sound you here is the interested parent filling out an application for a charter lottery. No surprise, it’s under enrolled.  A mile away a traditional public school does do tours and shows itself well. That school is humming along.

So,  heard some charter parents were rally around one candidate in a special election to be held August 12th.  Good lord, the only thing lamer than having a special election in the dog days of summer would be starting school that day.  OH, that is what LA unified is doing.   I spoke to some of my political mentors about one candidate, George McKenna.  He is a retired teacher and administrator.  Years ago they made a “Stand and Deliver” type movie about his work turning around a tough school starring Denzel Washington.  A friend set up a lunch for us to meet and I went, even though he looks nothing like Denzel.  While not a movie star, I found a charming Southern man who was very thoughtful and earnest about helping children.  Before I could order an ice tea he was talking about trying to get mental health services to students in LA schools who come from troubled places.  It was one of the concerns that reminded me of how vast the LA school system is. By the way since I was a kid I have thought the district should be broken up, but fat chance of that happening.   But, what can happen is for the grip to be loosened a bit on school so that a school can cater to their particular community.  This was something Mckenna and I agreed on. Well, we agreed on quite a bit.  From the good deviled egg appetizer to how a lousy principal can sink a school.

I told him, look the charter’s are scared of you.  He didn’t know why.  “I’ve gone on record as saying if a local school is working, charters wouldn’t exist”.  He was surprised the Teacher’s union backed him because of this.  He believes in traditional, charters, magnets, whatever works for children, not one ideology. I was touched by his sincerity and persuaded by his intellect and experience. He is being outspent. “Can Denzel give you some money?”

“I don’t know how to get to him.” he said.

So, before my after lunch espresso arrived I volunteered AGAIN.

“George, maybe I can throw you an event.” My dear husband was eager to hear about my lunch.  Later we attended a political meeting that a neighbor of ours had invited us too.  On the way out he met George.  The candidate was walking by himself having just thanked the group we were attending for their support and was on to the next.

“You need to go to 5 events a day.” Mark said earnestly.

“I wish it was only 5.” George said in his honey dripping accent.

We walked away and Mark said, “Let’s do grilled cheese.”  He was totally on board.  We must have done at least 3 grilled cheese events for Garcetti.  Now that the famous Thursday grilled cheese nights at Campanile are gone for good, it might be a bit of a draw for folks.  Former council members Nate Holden and Jan Perry who are my friends are also hosting.george mckenna fundraiser

The story has been picked up by a local online publication.  Come by if you care about educating the young, or just want to eat.  Don’t make my volunteering in vain!