WHAT IS PIANO GODDESS?

Piano Goddess started as an idea. Then a blog. Then a business plan. It is many things, but at the heart of it is a desire to help women discover their inner muse. To facilitate this, I run workshops and teach lessons in songwriting and piano, with a focus on healing and fun.

My first workshop was at ACME Studios in Park Slope, Brooklyn in June of 2016 and was a huge success! Stay tuned for news of a weekend retreat!

 

NEW YEAR, NEW SHOWS

EXCITING NEW SHOWS ANNOUNCED:

SUN FEB 28, 2016
6 PM
ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL STAGE 2

BAND SHOW WITH NEW MUSIC!
With
Rob Jost, bass
Robert DiPietro, drums
Rebecca Pronsky, background vox

SAT MARCH 5, 2016
11 am

THE ITTY BIDDIES FAMILY SHOW
Lincoln Center Atrium
61 West 62 St NY NY
Free!








Awakenings

It seems spring has finally sprung here in Brooklyn, and not a moment too soon.

It was, in the words of my 4-year old, a long, and "so so so so so so SO irritating" winter.

Agreed.

We lost our cat of 13 years, Nikita. She was spunky and festive and adorable, and just started wasting away over the last few months. It became noticeable when Ben left for six weeks in February, and I took her to the vet, who said we could either go the road of expensive hospitalization and force feeding (it was a liver sickness), or let her be peaceful at home. We chose the latter.

When Ben came back, she just seemed to quietly fade further away. She slept in the office chair as we watched TV at night. She seemed happy enough.

A couple of nights before she died she and I had a moment. She looked at me for several minutes, searching. I looked at her and said quietly, "If you need to go, you should go. It's okay."

I've heard this happens sometimes, with the dying. 

That night she went and slept in front of the crib. A couple of mornings later she stretched out long, and I saw the light just kind of fade from her eyes. The kids were running around, we were on our way to "Adventure Day", and I didn't know what to do.

How do you prepare your kids for this kind of thing? Or, for that matter, yourself?

I thought I'd been prepared, since she'd been sick for so long. but I wasn't. My heart felt tight and too big for my body. I sent the girls into the playroom and picked up Nikita. She was breathing but limp in my arms. Heavy and light at the same time.

In the bedroom I told her to go peacefully, go to the light, but she was already there, I think. I put her on the changing table so she could see outside. I allowed myself a few minutes of hardcore, unfiltered sobbing.

Soon Mirabelle came in. "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Well, you know Nikita has been sick for a long time, and I'm just feeling really really sad that she is so sick." She brought me her teddy bear. Petted Nikita a bit.

Then we went out and had a great Adventure Day, and when we got home later, Nikita was gone.

Ben had come home and we all hugged, crying together in the kitchen. Mirabelle put her hand on her heart and instructed us to do the same. "Now Nikita is in here," she said. Which of course made us cry harder. She went to draw a picture of Nikita.

We spent the rest of the evening looking at old photos of the cats (our older one, Zellie, is still alive) and laughed going through photos of our wedding, our old house, Mirabelle as a baby. She put a photo of Nikita next to her bed.

Apparently in New York City it is legal to bury your pet in your yard, so we had a short funeral the next day. We each tossed in a sprig of pine, and said a few words. Except Mirabelle, who was very quiet. She took the photo she'd brought down and asked, "Which part got left behind? Which part moved on?'

Crap, I thought. How am I supposed to explain death to a 4-year old?

It turns out it wasn't that hard. "The soul, the spirit, where you had us put our hand on our heart, inside, moved on," I said, struggling to get the words right. "The body part was left behind, but the essence of Nikita went to heaven, to be with God. At least, that's what I believe."

Pause. "Okay."

Pause. "Can we get ice cream?"

I didn't intend to write about this today. I wanted to write something super deep about spring, and awakening, and how Mirabelle held my hand tightly on the way back to school the first day after being on Spring Break and said, "You're holding my hand too loose. I don't want you to lose me", and how she is growing and changing and someday she'll claim my grip is too tight and I'll have to let her go. I wanted to make some intense metaphor about spring and youth and life and death.

But I guess today I just really needed to write about my cat, who I miss. And about my family, who I love.

I'm such a big sap.

Wishing you all a very happy Awakening, whatever kind you need for today.






The Night Before Normal

Here I am, the night before my husband gets home after six weeks away.

Six weeks, you think. That's not so long.

Or, if you have kids, like I do (ages 4 and 1), you might think, DAMN that's long.

Both are true.

It's kind of amazing what can become your new normal. Anything, really, if you get used to it. After 9/11 we were all talking about what it meant, getting back to normal. That there would now be a new normal. And sure enough, phrases like Ground Zero just became part of our vocabulary, and the skyline changed, and now it's just--the way it is.

Now, I'm not comparing my husband being gone for six weeks to anything like that. He's been gone before, and he'll be gone again, especially this first year in his new job.

I'm just surprised at how quickly I adapted. His absence was both welcomed ( more space around the house-yay! Less TV, and when it's on, more romantic comedies--yay!) and resented fiercely ("two little kids/single mom" pretty much sums that up). On one hand, getting up at 5:30 every day to shlep kids to school and daycare was easier than I thought. On the other hand, the passing of time only served to make life around the house often more challenging, not less.
 
(I was just interrupted by my 4-year old, who came in crying, "I bonked my head on the door, and now I can't hear". Bedtime has already been going on for two hours).

And yet, one thing I can say is that this way of living has become normal. Tomorrow, when Daddy returns (for a month, until he leaves again for a shorter time), we will have to redefine normal again.

There are upsides to being a single mom. All your friends feel sorry for you and buy you lunches and coffees, for one thing. The house can be blissfully quiet late at night.

(the one-year old is up now, crying.)

Also, I've grown really close to the girls. I listen to Mirabelle sing "Tomorrow" every night before bed (sometimes at the top of her lungs). Together we tap dance to "Singing in the Rain" while twirling her umbrella as we walk through the NEVER-ENDING WINTER WHEN WILL IT ENDDDDD WITH THE RAINING AND THE SNOWING!! (sorry. Snowing, AGAIN, now). At night we tell "secrets"; "What was the best part of your day, Mommy? The hardest part?"

I caught Clover's first steps on video at the playground. One day she was crawling and the next, walking, and she hasn't looked back. It's a great lesson. I wear her in the carrier and she puts her hand on my face, smiling, and I think, this phase will end soon.

Here's what else happened while I was Single Mom:

I learned to ask for help. I took on a new Composer-in-Residence job. I met my Biddy bandmate's brand new baby when it was just hours old. I started a new songwriting partnership. I co-led a concert of original songs written by developmentally disabled adults. I taught piano. I worked a lot.

I survived: a major blizzard, alternate-side parking (not really a NYC driver), both kids being sick, school vacation, a lost beloved teddy bear, my 4-year old's birthday party, weaning, a very sick kitty episode (ongoing), financial and health concerns.

I juggled work and life and kids and all of it, just like moms everywhere do, every day, single or not, because that's what is required of moms. There really isn't another choice.

(one of the cats is climbing into a paper bag in the kitchen VERY loudly. It had better not delay bedtime further or this cat will have hell to pay!!)

I definitely had some major meltdowns. I remember sobbing on the streets of Park Slope at one point, seeing all of the Happy Happy Families around me and feeling just so tired and overwhelmed.

But it passed. It will all pass, I seem to somehow remember in my daze, so through it all I've been trying to breathe, to take in that moment before the end of the day, before the end of the song.."it's only a dayyy a-wayyy"-and know that there is beauty amidst chaos.

The girls are asleep. Tomorrow will come, and with it, the new normal. The days may feel long but life is short and oh, so sweet.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyCWdGzaMKo




Gigs

Also:

I am playing with Roy Nathanson and the Jazz Passengers Sat night the 27th, 5-7 pm, at Brooklyn Conservatory of Music (7 Ave at Lincoln Place in Park Slope Brooklyn). He's raising money to send his music students at ICE to a festival in Munich. John Zorn will also be playing!

I feel cool.

Additionally:

I will be playing this Sunday the 28th with Brett Band for Kids at the Bleecker Street playground from 10-12, rain or shine. He writes really awesome kids music and I love playing keys and singing on the tunes.

My kids will be there dancing up a storm! There will also be crafts, treats, etc.

Hope to see some of you out and about.

Business Plan Boo

SO I found out today I didn't win the Business Plan Competition I entered.

I has a sad.

On the other hand, had I made it into the finals, I would have had to prepare a huge presentation, get a credit check, etc. Stressful. And the point is really that I finished the plan, right?

Except..the hard copy is still sitting in my drawer, where it has been sitting since I turned it in online.

It does make me wonder why I entered, if I don't plan on using it.

Maybe somewhere I do plan on using it, but I'm scared to implement it.

Scared of..what? Failure? Success?

I don't know. But I'm really writing this post to commit to any of you out there still reading the blog (and to myself, more importantly), that I WILL make Piano Goddess a reality.

Or at least take it out of the drawer.

I'm Baaack!

...and reaching out to blogworld, since my hubby leaves in a couple of days for A WHOLE MONTH. Job training. Ugghhhhhh.

I am very proud of him for getting an awesome new job with the FAA!

BUT annoyed that he is abandoning me, and also very...anxious about being primary person-at-home for a month. (Even though I am the primary caregiver usually, as it happens)

SO any feedback, support, messages, fun anecdotes etc will be appreciated and welcomed!


Onto other news-

Big Sis is still WAY into gymnastics, and practices daily in the playroom (as much as she can, jumping into beanbags off of a low dresser, etc) the playground, and gyms across town (trying lots of classes). She has watched countless videos of Olympic gymnasts (including documentaries on Mary Lou Retton, archival footage of Nadia Comaneci..) and it is clear this thing is for real. So- time to choose a class, I guess! I'm proud of how hard she works, and marvel at how excited she is.

Needless to say, she will be going as Gabby Douglas for Halloween. She has asked me to go as her coach. (If you saw me try a cartwheel you would know what a stretch that is, no pun intended.)

Little Sis has four teeth and enjoys crawling over to the toy piano and jamming out. She will be going as a superhero for Halloween.

THINGS I FINISHED SINCE THE LAST POST:

I finished reading The Hunger Games. Just..wow.

I finished my business plan!! Awaiting news to see if I made the final round.

I finished a really fun jazz gig at The Stone.

I finished watching The Glee Project.

I finished several Reese's chocolate peanut butter pumpkins.

I finished recording what I hope will be a huge Christmas hit. Stay tuned.

5 Funny Books, Book 1: Tina


To counteract all the projects I currently have going on (with stressful deadlines), I have been reading humorous memoirs to make myself LIGHTEN UP ALREADY

Forthwith, I give you the first of my current list of favorites:

1. Tina Fey, Bossypants

Classic. I wrote a song about her in 2004 and she is still smart as a whip. I dare you to read this on the subway or in line at the grocery store and not burst out snorting and crying "happy tears", as my daughter says.




Why yes, that is an autographed copy.

I stood in line for over an hour at the Union Square Barnes and Noble to get her to sign this (but really it was to give her the EP with my Tina Fey song on it.) I was NERVOUS. She was totally pregnant and looked amazing and was being nice, to boot, to everyone, it seemed. Even to the SUPER ANNOYING people who were, one might say, star****ers, ie; there just to gawk, name drop, and tweet. I was incensed. "I worship her, people!" I wanted to shout. "And furthermore have written a song to prove it! What have YOU done? HUH? HUH??!!?"

DISCLAIMER: I actually set out to write a song about how I wanted to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

My husband was at flight school in 2004 and I had watched the entire series while he was gone. I sat down to write a Buffy-centric song but there was a Saturday Night Live Christmas Special on TV (I know-Multitasking!!). I realized I actually wanted to be Tina Fey. The song came out in one go. My friend Lee Ann from The Biddies, when she heard it, said, "You are on crack". 

SIDENOTE: Joss Whedon does get an honorary mention in the song. If I ever got to work with him in ANY capacity I would literally die.

So. I was at the end of the line. The end of a long assembly line, basically. Heart pounding, I approached Tina. She looked tired by this point, her spirits finally fading. The magical moment came..

and I blurted out, beaming, words rushed, "Iwroteasongaboutyou!!"

Smooth. Realll smooth.

Her assistant threw it into a pile of other swag she had received from her superfans. The Goddess smiled wanly. Likely she thought I was as crazy as that stalker intern character on 30 Rock.

To this day I don't know if it went directly into the trash. I'm guessing it did. Either way, it doesn't matter. The important thing was just to show up for myself, in a way. I felt so elated, just giving that little song to her. Hubby was also incredibly supportive and got why I needed to do it (pushed me, even. This is what a good partner will do even if it annoys the crap out of you at times). I just needed to hand it to her, and walk away.

The bassist on the record actually subbed in the SNL band during Tina's Sarah Palin sketch and had the song in his pocket, was standing right behind her..but couldn't close the deal. I don't blame him. Because even in an autograph line I was a complete blithering idiot.

Here's the song. I don't know how to make it show up directly here, so-sorry you have to click on this. I am learning this blogging stuff. Stay tuned for Book #2..

http://www.deidrerodman.com/main/TinaFey.mp3

Updates and Playdates


Some of you may be wondering:

1. Deidre, where have you been?

2. Deidre, you started this blog to talk about being a non-cook in a cook's world, did you not? What is going on with that?

3. Deidre, how is your business plan going? Did you give up on it?

4. Deidre, are you still going on about the Olympics? It's over, for crying out loud!

5. OR-you just stumbled upon this blog, have no idea who I am, and could care less. If this is you, I would like to say, anyway, that I think you are nice for reading this and wish you a truly pleasant day wherever you may live. I hope that you get at least one thing you wish for today and that you treat yourself with kindness. Peace and cookies, all around.

ANSWERS:
1. I have been in Brooklyn. I have been in the playground. A LOT. At said playground I have seen:

-People in Dr. Pepper t-shirts hawking free Dr. Peppers TO KIDS

-a boy peeing right below the slides (this was tonight)

-rats

-a hive of bees

-my daughter in her dance leotard (she hasn't even started dance classes yet) YES STILL in Olympic spirit and practicing lots of routines such as running and tumbling to the ground and dropping from a high bar while other parents shoot me sideways glances.

Look at that, I just knocked out two questions in one!

2. I have been poking my hands in a bit of cooking. That sounded gross. It is slow going. But I have fed the baby real things such as carrots and sweet potatoes as opposed to fake things such as butterbeer

(OH WAIT that is a REAL THING and I must try it as SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. It gets great reviews. I need to haul off to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando ASAP and if anyone would like to fund this trip, I say, GAME ON. Spoken as only one who listens to a theme park podcast every week--coasterradio.com--would know)

3. I thought about giving up. I really did.

I had a night where I had been dealing with about a hundred different things, including organizing a recording session for a Christmas tune, more on that another time, and including scheduling students, and including dealing with two kids and two cats in the (perpetually messy no matter what I do) house while my husband is away (that is, dealing with four beings who poop and sometimes vomit and can also be nocturnal and willful, if anyone is counting). And I thought, forget it. This Piano Goddess Business Plan is too much, and further more I am not excited about it. Might as well let someone else win (it is a competition) who has real passion for their project.

But then I watched the episode of Project Runway, the recent one, where that one designer (Andrea?) leaves the show in the middle of the night after saying, "If I got kicked out now, I'd be relieved".. and I thought HELL NO. Coward.

Plus a good friend gave me great advice: Quit writing what you think you SHOULD be writing, or what you think the judges want to hear! What does your IDEAL life look like? What will make you happiest? Write about THAT! Quit whining and make a collage! etc etc.

I have good friends. It goes without saying.

So I got excited again, and I'm diving in again and the deadline is fast fast approaching. I meet with business mentors from the Local Development Corporation of East New York once a week (going out there to the heart of Brooklyn feels really....New York. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.) They have been great. I CAN'T give up now. If I try, please talk me out of it, new friends.

4. See #1

5. Namaste

There you have it. I will leave you with a recent photo of what I wake up to every morning, because whenever I get down about anything, it is a great reminder that my life is, in fact, awesome.



Just Like Gabby


Dear Gabby Douglas,

It is the last night of the 2012 Olympics, and as the closing ceremonies start I find myself already nostalgic. This past two weeks has renewed my faith in the human spirit, inspired me to want to improve myself, and best of all, has provided a chance for me to bond with my three-year old, Mirabelle.

Mirabelle recently received a new little sister as a (mostly) welcome gift. But with her father away a lot on business, she has felt the challenge of having to share my affections. Enter: pre-bedtime nighttime ritual. Every day and night for two weeks we have reconnected over these games.

She loved you from the moment she saw your bright smile. Once she learned your name she repeated it constantly. She couldn't get enough gymnastics (and not just because of the sparkly leotards, although initially that was a big part of the appeal).

As an aside, she also enjoyed watching diving, running, swimming, even rhythmic gymnastics--though to my shock she grew tired of that quite quickly.

But whenever you and the Fabulous Five came on, she was utterly transfixed.

(Confession: I used the enticement of replay videos as rewards for tasks well done. I also admit to saying things like, Gabby would not likely go to a meet with a messy face like that. Etc. Result: her teeth have NEVER been cleaner. Her dentist should probably also write you a thank you letter.)

Before long, she was putting on her own "leotard" (bathing suit) daily, and had set up all four apparatus (apparati?) in the playroom:

Vault (jumping off the couch into a beanbag)
Uneven Bars (hoisting herself onto the chest of drawers and balancing)
Floor Exercise (in her words, "little bit of dancing, little bit of leaping")
Balance Beam (somersaulting on a scarf)

We went to the library and checked out books on gymnastics, which she carries with her everywhere. She tries handstands against the wall. She practices her forward roll again and again.

She falls off the balance beam, but then gets right back on, "Just like Gabby".

This is one the best lessons you gave her from the Olympics. Not only did you display your athletic prowess, but you actually looked you were having FUN out there! And when you fell off, you got back on, and finished the job, with humility, grace, and still smiling. This is something I hope Mirabelle takes with her throughout life.

I don't know if the gymnastics obsession will last, but it doesn't matter. I have cheered for her countless times, placed a cookie monster necklace around her neck as a medal, seen Baby Sister giggle at the drama of it all. I have been reminded that my daughter is a graceful, athletic, smart, thoughtful and joyous girl. I have watched her swinging in her leotard at the playground, "So high I can touch the sky!" Head back, eyes closed, feeling the breeze, feeling like she can do anything. Because she can.

"Higher! Just like Gabby!!"

Thank you.

Deidre Rodman Struck


10 Things I Could Be Doing Right Now


1. Napping

2. Watching Project Runway

3. Watching baby nap

4. Reading

5. Browsing Facebook

6. Eating chocolate chip cookies

7. Drinking coffee with fellow mom

8. Catching up on work

9. Googling (at baby)

10. Writing an irrelevant list for a blog

Oh wait! I did all those already!!

NOW what?

(Ah, summertime. You are so good to me)


A Hop, A Skip, and A Sautée


My friend Angela was the third person I called, and the first to pick up the phone.

"I'm calling on business," I said. "Sautéed vegetables. Go."

I haven't quite forgiven Angela for moving to North Carolina, even though it was to be with her now fiancé. This call is part of her penance.

"Heat the skillet first", she advises without missing a beat.

Now that is just weird. Why would anyone heat a pan with NOTHING IN IT? But I think, I called her because she actually knows how to cook. She used to trust me to teach her piano; now it's my turn.

While the pan is heating she tells me that the word Sautée means jump. I flick water into the pan as instructed to see if it is hot, then ask her suspiciously, "Wait. How did you know that?" "I like to cook," I can practically hear her shrug.

I have a container of veggies from my old standby Trader Joes. I've got rice in the cooker (I admit, I did Google how to cook rice in a rice cooker. Anyone surprised by this should read my first post).

She coaches me through pouring in a bit of olive oil, adding the veggies to the skillet, then a pinch of salt and pepper.

At this point I say doubtfully, "I have a garlic press here and put a half-moon thing of garlic inside."

(A few weeks ago my husband asked me to bring the garlic press downstairs to the grill. It took me a while to figure out what it was. Again, see previous posts).

I squish the garlic out (FUN) and put it in the skillet. Veggies jumping!

And-voila!! Sautéed veggies! Rice! (kind of burned. I am a work in progress, people.)

I skip out into the other room to tell my three-year old, "I did it!"

At which point she proudly shows off her "Christmas tree". I am lucky my baby, seen in the background, is a good sport.

She then completely shocks me by plucking a piece of broccoli out of the bowl, eating it, and stating, "I like broccoli". HELL HATH FROZEN OVER.

Angela, you have my eternal thanks! You now have permission to live out of New York City but ONLY IF you continue to answer my cooking calls.


Soundtrack:
I came out of the kitchen to hear Traffic's "The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" playing on the CD player. Lord knows where Big Sis found that CD. But I suppose it does combine her three favorite things; high heels, sparkles, and boys. Look out.

Business Plan


I've entered a business plan competition put on by the Brooklyn Public Library. The winner gets $15000 and their name on one of those fancy big checks.

Daily I've wondered what the hell I was thinking, signing up for this expedition with a new baby and all. A business plan is a 20-page document clarifying what the business will be and why investors should give you money to start it. It needs to include a lot of research and statistics. I dread working on it as I dreaded working on final term papers, years ago.

And yet I'm not quitting.

Others in the classes required during the competition (Marketing, Financial Projections etc etc) seem to know exactly what they want: "I am going to open up a gelato shop in Bushwick".

I don't even know what I want, exactly. I know I like performing on the piano, and helping other humans learn how to enjoy the same even if they are blocked after years of non-playing. I know that once I gave a workshop to a few classical pianists at the University of Idaho. They wanted desperately to improvise but were afraid. So afraid that more than one of them broke down when we were doing even basic exercises. I started thinking outside the box; turning out the lights, meditating, playing as crazy as possible, having fun. Gradually their spirits started to lift. There were more tears, but tears of breakthroughs, and I realized,  I'm good at this.

That week culminated in a concert, the students sitting around me on the stage. It felt so empowering. Over the years I've found some private students who want to start playing piano, and the results have also been beautiful. They find themselves through the piano. They find songwriters, performers, comedians, storytellers, and, yes, gods and goddesses.

But I, as they are when they start, am full of self-doubt. "Why would ANYONE want to give money to a business called Piano Goddess? It sounds way too New Age. Or, "I'll never find the time to do it. Forget it. This is the worst idea I have idea had!!" (stomps feet, breaks into tears of frustration).

If I give up, though, aren't I sending a message to any people who have ever thought of coming back to the piano, or starting it for the first time? That it's okay to give up on your dreams? I can't do that. I have to be brave, to find time every day to figure out how to do this imperfectly. I will be inspired by those I myself teach.

I now have only 35 days left to do it. This post today feels like a start.

Deep breath. Approach the keys. Begin.

Skip the Pizza, Order Sanity


Sitting here watching men's synchronized diving, I wonder to myself if it was really worth it today to pay someone 20 bucks to come and play with my kids for an hour this afternoon so I could go to the coffee shop and write in my journal.

Answer: yes.

Following a morning involving a botched beach day due to weather, then stressful Aquarium visit (um, who knew that a lot of the New York Aquarium is OUTSIDE? And it was first scorching then storming and I was navigating a new double stroller and my daughter's friends didn't show up because a friend's dog was sick or ate their homework or something and I had clearly not had enough coffee to be dealing with this so early in the morning).

Fast forward to the afternoon. Trying to get a quick nap in while baby is in exersaucer and Big Sis is in playroom with her. Hearing her say, laughing mischievously, "Now I am going to HIT YOU! It will be BAD". Running in to find Big Sis wielding the tiniest of tea party spoons at Baby who is clearly clueless and smiley. Still, time out ensues, and tears, and the ultimate confession that she is mad at me for taking the microphone away from her when I need to use it for gigs.

O...kay.

It's true--we have an amplifier and microphone set up in the living room because she loves to perform. She does this on a wooden "stage" (board) while wearing heels. She has much less conflict around being a performer and diva than I do. (More on this another time). It is pure--she wants to sing, always, and use the real microphone. When I have a gig I take it because I need it.

But yeah, by this point I needed a freaking break. Called a sitter, and took it. Brought back her fancy flower girl dress from the dry cleaners to make up for it, but otherwise felt no remorse whatsoever for getting out of the house to be around adult conversation and put pen to paper. When I got home, she twirled in the dress, we watched gymnastics and I felt sane again.

I was going to order a pizza tonight for 20 bucks. I am SO GLAD I used it to purchase my sanity instead.

*********

ps--I really do not intend this to become yet one more in an endless sea of mommyblogs. And yet, since I am a mom, I expect the girls will show up in here, just as, since I am a pianist, the piano will show up in here. So-there's my disclaimer, I suppose. Now back to practically naked wet men doing somersaults.

Huh!

I just figured out how to post a photo from my phone. So here is one of me at Blue Bottle Coffee in Williamsburg. Just because I am not quite ready to inundate you fair readers with photos of my children. Although I am sure this cannot be avoided.

Lazy Olympics

Here's my newly discovered method of making scrambled eggs.

1. Send oldest daughter to grandpa's house for sleepover the night before
2. Sleep in (as late as baby will let you)
3. Watch Olympics Opening Ceremony from previous night on iPad in bed with husband
4. DO NOT get dressed. This is important.
5. Pad to kitchen. Turn on heat, put butter in skillet
6. Yawn
7. Crack 5 eggs in yellow bowl that most reminds you of sunshine
8. forkity fork fork
9. Salt/pepper
10. Eggs in buttered skillet
11. Add 2 slices "special cheese" (what Big Kid calls American cheese)
12. Yawn three times while lazily stirring eggs
13. Take out frozen Ore-Ida french fries you put in oven 15 minutes ago
14. Put eggs on plate
15. Take plate to bed
16. Enjoy while gawking at Spectacle Television (including oversized creepy baby puppet)
17. Go back to sleep


The Greens of Spinach and Other Places

Last night I was thinking about how to describe the green of cooked spinach. The closest comparison I can think of is the pine trees in the Idaho mountains where I used to attend girl scout camp every summer. The kind of green you can smell when it is summer, that makes you want to go sit by a creek and write in your journal. Or at least, that's what I used to do at camp. (When I wasn't staying up late talking about boys and singing rounds).

After grad school I traveled the world for a year playing on cruise ships. In Ireland the greens were so intense that I had a strong desire to eat them somehow. This memory led me to reading a good portion of my travel journal from that year looking for that entry. Which led to me going to bed wayyyy too late. Which led to me eating a late-night snack of M & M cookies and milk. OH well.

I'm not exactly sure if the spinach yesterday was steamed or boiled--too much water maybe? I put in, I would say, two finger-lengths of water. Washed the spinach and then Big Sis helped me dry them out with the salad spinner. Who doesn't love a salad spinner? "SPINner SPINach!!" we shrieked. WAY too many times.

I then realized it is fruitless to be drying your spinach when you are just going to put it back IN WATER. Ahem.

But hey, any opportunity to spin things is fine by me.

Into the pot it went, cover on, for 5 minutes, then into the food mill, and that green! It made me intensely miss my home state. I need to get back among trees.

As a side note there is a song contest I was thinking about entering which involves mentioning trees. I considered entering a Christmas song I have which mentions trees, until my good friend reminded me I actually HAVE A SONG CALLED TREE. Wherein the chorus says, "Tree Tree Tree"..

How could I have forgotten this???

I digress.

Baby liked the spinach pretty well, although she regarded me with some skepticism, as if to say, Woman, where is the blueberry yogurt crack from the other day?! You mock me with this imitation of a meal!

Can't blame her, really.

Needless to say, though, she ate it up! Successssss! And I even managed to sneak some into Big Sister's Annie's brand Veggie Loaf. Veggies all around. Good thing I balanced that with some late night cookies.


41 and Cookin'

SO I'm 41 and never cooked until last week.

This isn't exactly true. (The 41 part is). There have been a few misguided attempts at egg scrambling, pasta boiling, and grilled cheese making over the years, with varying degrees of success.

In college my roommate noted sadly, as I was eating copious amounts of cookie dough another roommate was making (to her dismay. It was a pet peeve of hers), "I'm the least domestic person I know. Well, except for Deidre. Of course."

In grad school I once tried making a pizza with an english muffin, canned spaghetti sauce and a piece of American cheese. It burned.

In my youth, my mom did once teach me how to make chipped beef on toast in a basic white sauce, which I made a few times, mostly in later years on nostalgic visits home with her supervising in the kitchen. The toast ALSO burned.

When I was a tween she would ask if I wanted to help her cook, and I would very politely decline and then retire to my bedroom to read the latest Sweet Valley High book while inhaling half a bag of doritos (which my father, a dentist, used to leave for me as a gift on my pillow. Don't mind if I do!)

(As an aside, I am from Idaho and ate lots of meat and potatoes growing up. I married a vegetarian.)

Some people say: "Surely you've cooked. You just mean you don't cook MUCH."

Um, see the examples. I could count on my hands how many times I have tried. Maybe one hand.

When friends ask why I don't cook I say, "Why should I? I HAVE a cook. His name is Trader Joe."

Other friends say things like, "OH Deidre, you could TOTALLY cook, it's so easy!"

To which I reply, "Whatever." Cue glassy eyes and change of subject.

Others say, "Here's a recipe you could start with: carmelize some onions.."

STOP right there. I blank out at any cooking terminology.

The truth is, I COULD learn how, Here are a few reasons why I haven't:

1. I just have never had the slightest interest in it.
2. Shopping overwhelms me. SO MANY BRIGHT COLORS.
3. I'm busy. I don't want to take the time.
4. My personal chef provides me with lots of tasty and mostly healthy options and when that fails my husband can cook the rest.
5. I haven't ever even felt remorseful about any of this.

Here I should pause and mention that I have two daughters, ages 5 1/2 months and 3 1/2 years. I borrowed a fancy Beaba Babycooker with my first, thinking it was high time I got my act together. It collected dust until I sent it back to the friend. She has survived just fine. (The daughter. Not sure about the friend).

But last week I got bored, and the timing corresponded with the following:

We recently returned from a family wedding and the baby seemed so interested in our food that we started feeding her little bits of things. When we returned, shockingly, she still wanted to eat food. Are we THERE already? I bemoaned, wanting her to stay small just a bit longer. So-yes, here we are.

And there I was last week, my piano work having slowed down a bit for the summer, my hubby back at work. Truthfully I was looking for an activity to do with my 3-year old, who was tremendously compliant on the plane ride back from San Francisco and who is SO FREAKING CUTE but also SO FULL OF ENERGY. I suggested we make M & M cookies, like we did back in March when "Grandma Idaho" came to visit the new baby.

We shopped. We got the large bag of M & Ms. We made a mess. We made cookies. Technically I know this is baking, not cooking. But we had fun, and they turned out terribly tasty, and this buoyed my confidence.

I tentatively took out the food mill my friend (different friend than Beaba friend) loaned me. I examined it as though it was going to bite me, or sprout wings. When it did not, I figured out how it worked. I mashed up some blueberries and strawberries (Yay! More mess!), threw in a ittle yogurt and rice ceral, and combined. Voila. The baby LOVED IT. Like I had introduced her to crack. Which, in a way, I suppose I did.

Many of you may be thinking, this IS baby stuff. The 3-year old could make that. Heh.

Again, true. But when you've made it to 41 without cooking it kind of becomes a huge elephant in the room. My friend, who recently learned to drive in her late 30s, had a similar experience. For her, turning on the ignition was a cause for celebration. Making cookies and churning out berries in a food mill was mine.

The next day I bought a sweet potato. It felt solid in my hand. Comforting. Being from Idaho, I added a few Idaho potatoes to the cart.

I had to look up "How to Cook a Sweet Potato" on the internet. I KNOW.

I wrapped a cookie sheet with tinfoil, poked holes in the sweet potato and baked it for 45 minutes. Of course I decided for good measure to add 3 other regular potatoes to the cookie sheet.

Needless to say, they didn't get quite baked. But I had come too far to give up now! I persevered and mashed up the sweet potato, sprinkled a bit of cinnamon, made it as mushy as possible and fed it to the baby. Held my breath.

What an awesome audience for one's first cooking trials! She LOVED it! She loves ME! She loves FOOD! I can't really go too wrong!

Excited, I next combined an avocado, banana and hummus, to which my husband later said, after Baby rejected it, "Would YOU eat that?"

Good point.

Unfazed, I tried mashing the potatoes for last night's dinner. I added milk and butter, used the actual MASHER and felt very official. They were lumpy.

At dinner, hubby said, "Oh, you BAKED these?" Trying to keep a straight face lest I murder him. "Usually you boil them if you are going to mash them."

"Oh. Okay". Next time I will Google that.

So- why am I writing this all down? Who cares?

I honestly don't know. On the subway ride home today I thought it might be a fun idea. It does not guarantee that I will ever cook again. Or blog again. I don't want to put that pressure on myself, especially if well-meaning folks start emailing me recipes.

I did ask someone today about other options for Baby and she suggested I steam some spinach.

When I got off the subway I went to the vegetable section, all those bright colors surrounding me, the mist from the sprayer coming down onto Baby's head and making her giggle. It took me a while to find the spinach. When I did I brought it up to the counter.  I said, "Spinach", to the person weighing it and as she rang up my purchase, I felt a bit of a thrill. I'm guessing everyone else in the country has done things by my age like buy spinach to steam it. But not me. I'm a complete beginner. It makes sense to me to do this so so slowly, making what a baby would eat, and eating it along with her, teaching my 3-year old along with me. We will learn and laugh and maybe cry together.

We will eat together.

I'll let you know how the spinach goes.


ps-Going slowly, approaching things like a child, is the way I teach adult piano students who have always wanted to play. They are vulnerable and brave. They are willing to be simple, and also to make mistakes. I will learn from them, too.