Love. Listen/Observe/Read. Act. Repeat.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #145

As Peggy takes Leroy Anderson's famous Christmas tune at half-tempo and still plays lots of wrong notes.
Sam (in a stage whisper): Uh-oh. Sleigh Ride is hard.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Tuba Juba Duba

Michael worked hard for a year to learn to play the violin. Mark wanted him to know that music can be fun, too. He suggested this little duet for them to play during the Argyle Talent Show in 2001. Michael captured this video this morning and edited it.
Happy listening!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Anthropologist in the Stadium

Saturday was my second time to attend a Texas Christian University home game. They are a spectacle. There is the official horned frog mascot and then there are Michael's friends, who dress in morph suits to look like a Blue Man group guy that drank too much grape juice and Penguin Referee if he wasn't wearing a top hat. We had to stop at Michael's apartment to swap out Sam's shirt. He left the house in CSU green instead of purple revolution.

I believe that in this photo I am the one to look the most like an eggplant.

This game was a little better experience, as it was not raining, like last time, and, also like last time, I was not standing the the mosh pit known as student seating.

The smell of beer is overpowering and even though a person is probably safe, I wear my steel-toed boots for good measure.

The first time I got bowled over by the sheer spectacle of football in Texas was when Mark and I went to Paige's first game as a member of the color guard in the marching band.

We left after halftime. We were really uncomfortable with the amount of community resources going into those games.

Sam loves going to games. It's a great place to catch up with friends.

At TCU, fighter jets fly over, and jumbo TVs get people to kiss each other on Kiss Cam, and people get awards in the end zone during time outs.

At TCU, I watched ladies with hair extensions ignore the game. I watched about 650 high school cheerleaders and dance team members ignore the game. I watched scores of people alternate between sort of watching the game, sort of talking to their friends, and every 60 seconds or so, check their phone for whatever message commanded their attention.

The game was pretty flat during the first half and only got interesting in the third quarter, when Tank Carder intercepted and ran like hell, looking behind him almost the whole 70-ish yards, for a touchdown.

But the distractions -- so many of them deliberate -- were too numerous to count.

I was in the marching band in college. We helped create distractions. We used to mess up the cheerleaders by inserting multi-meter fills in between chants of "Get that ball!"

On the way home, I told the kids I felt like I always do at games, like an outsider. Sam piped up right away, clearly feeling authoritative on the matter.

"Just about everywhere you go, you're an outsider," he said.


Puree in a blender 3-4 cups of basil leaves, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, 3 garlic cloves, 1/4 tsp. salt.

Pulse in 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup grated Parmesean cheese. Thin to desired consistency with pasta water, or additional olive oil.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #144

(at the tail end of a discussion on the phone about leftover options for dinner)
Peggy: Of course, there's the noodles. There's still some pesto left in that jar.
Sam: I know. (pause) You know, Mom, you make the best pesto.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Miss Connie

Like most kids with autism, Sam couldn't tolerate having his hair cut when he was little. I ended up having to cut his hair in his sleep.

It worked fine when he was a toddler, although one night he kept waking up and fussing while I was trying to cut his hair, so I stopped. The next day, we went out somewhere to get some carryout and walked past a table with a couple of older men having a cup of coffee. One of the guys looked at Sam and said, "Son, you need to have a talk with your barber."

Mark and I burst out laughing. And I told the man the job would be finished tonight, and no payment was due the barber fairy.

Eventually, our next door neighbor, who was a stylist, said she'd give it a go. We'd do it at home, putting him in the high chair and setting out a mirror. Judy would bring her supplies to the house.

It worked!

Judy was really patient. Sam was fond of telling her what to do, and Judy went along with it.

When we left California, we weren't sure we'd find someone like Judy, but we were wrong. Connie Clark stepped right in. Her big heart and boundless sense of humor got Sam from kindergarten haircuts through middle school.

Haircuts at Connie's became a family affair. Everyone took their turn in the chair -- another thing Sam could be in charge of, who's turn it was next to get a haircut.

We followed her over to Robson Ranch when she moved her shop from Argyle, and that old converted gas station, to a real salon. Even though most of her clients were older, we still came as a mob.

Connie got cancer and eventually she wasn't strong enough to stand all day and cut people's hair. Mark started taking the boys over to Unique Stylists in Denton. After Mark died, Sam kept up his appointments with Wayne. He never lets his locks get very long.

When a life is touched by autism, it touches thousands of other lives in ways you can't imagine until you are there, watching. Connie was one of those people who helped Sam navigate to a fairly independent, normal adult life.

Just by cutting his hair.

We'll miss you, Miss Connie.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #143

Peggy: Bank of America called me today to apologize.
Sam: It's about time.
Peggy: Yes, it was. It was the 'customer advocate.' They are sending me an Amazon gift card as a token gesture.
Sam: Now that's the right way to do it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Peter Principle

Oh, the holidays are coming. Mostly, they stress me out, but I like the making of the presents and the baking of the things. Recipes I don't dare make any other time of year because I'd blow up like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory if I did.

Things such as fruitcake -- the kind people love because you douse it with rum once a week -- has to be started this month.

When the kids were little, we would make a gingerbread house that they could take to Cornerstone Cooperative Preschool for the Christmas party and break it apart and eat it.

I took a class from Sacramento County parks and recreation that was just Christmas cookie recipes. Got lots of good ones there -- little sesame thins, which are about as addictive as sables, and one of those early versions of death-by-chocolate cookies that were more brownie or candy than cookie.

We always make cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning.

Those little guys were really tender the years Mark was able to score two 50 pound bags of Peter Pan flour. The bags were damaged in a delivery he was making. The flour was fine.

Oh, I loved that flour. We became baking fiends. Scones, biscuits, artisan-style breads, homemade pizza. As the bags emptied, I begged Mark to ask them next time he was trucking for Morrison (he drove a regional run for JB Hunt) to ask them where to get it. They said those big bags only went to restaurants and bakers. They couldn't sell him any.

I know I should be able to find the little bags of Peter Pan in the stores, but I never see them. I buy King Arthur, which is good, too, and Albertsons "O" Organic.


I'll go on the hunt again, but it's going to be another Christmas without Peter Pan.

Good thing Sam's favorite cookie doesn't need flour. This one came from the Sacramento class. It's called Unbelievable Cookies

1 c. crunchy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 c. chocolate chips.

Mix peanut butter, sugar and egg in a bowl. Stir in chips. Shape in balls and bake at 325 for 10 minutes. Do not over bake.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Overheard in the Wolfe House #142

Sam (after an exasperating evening with an Excel spreadsheet): ... and now it won't fill down.
Peggy: Do you want to enter each cell one at a time?
Sam: Ugh, that will take so long.
Peggy: Do you want me to make a pitcher of pina coladas while you do it?
Sam: Oh. Well. Go ahead.