Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Moving Day

Well, I'm moving over to my very own domain today. I've enjoyed blogger, but decided to get categories, and hopefully avoid the problems that blogger so often has. The place will be a bit of a mess for awhile...meaning some pictures from old posts may not work right away, and I need to go through and categorize all of my old posts, etc. But it's an adventure, just like any move.

We tried for "", but it wasn't available. So the new domain is a combination of two nicknames I've had in the past. For a brief while in high school, my friends called me "Jelly", and I have often gone by the nickname, "Jules", so come see me at the new place, "". See you there!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Killer Popcorn

Have any of you heard of the dangers of microwave popcorn? I first read of it at Pureland Mountain, though I can't link to the post anymore. On Saturday, I heard a story on NPR about the dangers of working at popcorn plants. The danger comes from the butter flavoring that is added to some microwave popcorn, and the danger is to the employees who work there. Some people have died, and many others are suffering from serious health effects to their lungs. Some popcorn manufacturers have voluntarily imposed safer methods of making their popcorn, while others are ignoring the danger, and I suspect won't make any changes until federal regulations come down. Unfortunatly, our government is failing us here, because no such regulations are on the way. All of you folks who say that industries should be left to 'do the right thing' and keep government out of it? Go work in a popcorn plant, OK?

Does this mean that we need to give up popcorn? Or that we need to break out our old hot air poppers, or use the stove? Maybe this is good for Jiffypop? I don't know. But it seems to me, if the danger comes from the butter flavoring on your microwave (by the way, they have yet to test whether making butter flavored popcorn in your own home is safe or not), then a very easy (and tasty) solution is to buy plain, unflavored popcorn, pop that up in your microwave, and add your own butter.

Think you can't make a difference? Think one little person doesn't matter to the health of these workers? Remember the tuna/dolphin issue? Nowadays, it's quite difficult to find canned tuna that isn't 'dolphin safe', and all because consumers refused to buy tuna that was caught using nets, nets which also resulted in the drowning deaths of dolphins. Changing the fishing industry around was expensive, far more expensive, I would think, than no longer adding a flavoring to popcorn kernels. And yet they did it, because the power at the checkstand was strong. I happen to think that all life is important, that dolphins are worth saving. But I also think that human lives are even more important and valuable, and if all it takes for me to not be complicit in damaging people's lungs is to melt some yummy butter on my stovetop once in awhile? I'm more than happy to comply.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Romantic? Or Realist?

Every once in awhile, I'll be talking to someone, and they'll mention that someone is (or isn't) their 'soulmate'. The idea, the way I understand it, is that there is one person out there, who is perfect for you, and assuming you want to be in a relationship, you have to find them. I find this difficult to believe. Also, somewhat depressing. What if they're perfect for you, but they get hit by a car, and you never get to meet them? What if they're already married? What if they're perfect for you, but they're in Sudan, and you're in Stockton, and you never have a chance to meet? What if they're 90, and you're 2, and there's no way it's gonna work out? Then what? And why, if there IS someone perfect for each of us, don't we take more care when getting involved? Why is divorce so rampant? Is it that we just haven't found the right person yet? I watched "My Husband's Three Wives" last night on TLC, and the third 'wife' (who was divorced from her first husband) was just devastated, because she felt that she had met her soulmate, the one man for her, and dang it all, he had two wives already, and they weren't too excited about having another join the household.

Personally, I think there there are a lot of people out there for each of us. At least several. There are people out there with whom we can be happy, with whom we are the person we want to be, with whom we 'click'. So, what if I had gone to USC instead of SFSU? I wouldn't have met Ted. (Although, he thought of going to USC too, so maybe in an alternate universe, we're together though we met there...hmmmm) If I hadn't met Ted, would I be in a miserable relationship? Or alone? (Picture the spinster Mary, from "It's a Wonderful Life", doomed to spend her days in that place of unimaginable horror...THE LIBRARY!)

Somehow, I doubt it. I think I would have dated awhile, and found someone that was a pretty great guy, and we would have gotten married, and we would be happy. Also, Ted would have dated a bit, and found another woman, gotten married, and would also be happy. I mean, there are a lot of great men out there. A lot of great women out there. We would have met them, and we would be fine and happy. I don't think it's very hard to find people to date when you're in your 20s.

Of course, there are plenty of people out there that we could have married who would have made our lives a living hell. They could have locked us up in the basement of disappointment and dread and threw away the key. We could be working on our 6th divorces by now. But I don't think that would have happened. I think (I hope) we would have found someone wonderful.

The danger, I think, with believing that there is only one person out there for you, one perfect person who 'completes' you, makes you happy and strong and wonderfully blissful, is that into every relationship comes troubles. And if you think that another person can make you happy, and you're not happy with the person that you're with, you're much more likely to think...maybe this is the wrong person. Maybe this isn't my 'soulmate'. Maybe what I should have done was kept looking. Maybe he/she isn't THE ONE. So instead of working through a rough patch, committing to your marriage/relationship, and making it as strong and vibrant as it can be, instead of looking at your partner, you're looking over their shoulder, wondering...when, when will I meet my Mr./Ms. Right?

So, for those of you out there who are still looking, don't despair. I don't think there is just one person out there, and you have to find them or be miserable or alone (not the same thing, many people are not in relationships and are perfectly happy that way...the idea that you have to be married to be happy is pretty stupid, and I think pushed on us by Hollywood and religion and our culture in general...but that's another post entirely.) I think there are many people out there with whom you can make it work. :) The trick, I think, is being open to that and finding them.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Cooking

OK, so I know most people don't bother reading blogs on the weekend, since you have lives and chores and families and so on, so I save the easy ones for these days. Posts that I figure maybe 3 people will read, and I'll get maybe one comment. I've learned my lesson, people, I've poured my heart and soul into a weekend post, and seen on my site meter that it is basically ignored.

The perfect lazy post is a recipe that I can just copy and paste from a website. I mean, at that point, why do I even bother? Because I can't help myself, I guess.

Maya has decided that she wants to give this whole vegetarian thing a try. We're trying to support her, while we are not exactly willing to give up the meat ourselves, because we love it too much, and we are souless, evil, animal eating fiends. Ahem. Some nights, I'll make a meat based meal for us, like lamb chops, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. Maya can have the mashed potatoes and broccoli, and some fake chick'n strips, ala Morningstar Farms. Other days, we'll all eat vegetarian, such as one of our many pasta dishes, or perhaps some yummy black bean chili from my Greens Cookbook (mine got wet and moldy, actually, so I have to buy another copy...but I will, and then we can have black bean chili again, and black bean enchiladas with homemade tomatillo sauce...mmmm...looking forward to colder weather already!). The other night, I decided to try one of the recipes on the back of the Morningstar Farms chick'n patty box. Know what? Mighty tasty. Not restaurant, WOW fabulous tasty, but hey, this-is-pretty-good-and-SO-easy-one-skillet-meal-is-groovy-good-tasty. So I'm going to share it with you, and you can all try it, not just the vegetarians out there, OK? OK.

Prep Time
5 minutes

1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 cup thick and chunky salsa
2 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 package Morningstar Farms® Chik Patties® Breaded Veggie Patties (thawed and cubed)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Combine all ingredients except MORNINGSTAR FARMS CHIK PATTIES and cilantro in 12-inch frypan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture
starts to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes or until pasta is

2. Stir in MORNINGSTAR FARMS CHIK PATTIES and cilantro. (J's Note: I heated mine up in the toaster oven while the pasta was cooking, because I wanted that bit of crispy texture.) Continue heating 5 minutes longer or until patties are hot. Serve hot.
You're welcome. Happy weekend!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Elephant Appreciation

Yesterday was Elephant Appreciation Day*. I thought it was September 23rd, but I was wrong, and thus, I missed it. But really, is it ever too late to appreciate elephants? And, since elephants in the wild are pretty much in Africa and India and Southeastern Asian countries, shouldn't I have celebrated on Thursday night? Do elephants care about such things?

I'll admit that I never had much of an opinion about elephants growing up. I mean, they're big, and they're kind of prehistoric looking, but what else? Dumbo? Dumbo's cute. That's about as far as I went. Then, when I was an International Relations major in college, we watched a film about I-Don't-Know-What, except at least part of it was talking about the illegal poaching of elephants. The filmmakers captured an elephant being poached on film. (I tried that sentence with 'being shot on film', but since you shoot film, it seemed awkward. I hope none of you think the poor thing was being boiled.) I was struck, to tears actually, by the compassion of the other members of the elephant herd. Any other herd animal, most animals, I would think, if one of their members goes down like that, it means DANGER, and the rest would scatter. Imagine a sniper in a major city. Think people would get the hell out of there asap? You bet. Not the elephants. They all rushed to the aid of the poor elephant who had been shot. They tried to help it up. They didn't want to leave it behind. I don't know if this behavior is because elephants don't have many predators, so they don't have that instinct, or if it is because they are more compassionate than other herd animals. But it went straight to my heart, and elephants went to the top of list of "J's favorite wild animals". (Right up there with those eyelashes...and wolves, just because, well, they're so wolf-y.)

Here's Maya, appreciating an elephant at the SF Zoo, when she was 2. :)

So, in honor of all of the elephants, both in captivity and in the wild, my hat is off to you, and I salute you. Happy Elephant Appreciation Day, everyone!

*Thanks to Mom-101 for the alert.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Calling all Gramarians

Awhile ago, I posted a list of thirteen grammar mistakes that bug me. If you like that kind of thing, you might enjoy listening to this. It's "To The Best Of Our Knowledge", from NPR, and it talks about IM and text messaging, but also about changes to grammar in general. My favorite part so far is an interview with the author of "Woe is I". I'm about 2/3 through (Have it on my iPod, and I listen while I walk the dog...), and I'm enjoying it. Hope you do as well.

Book Meme

I've been tagged by Lotus Reads for an interesting meme about books. The hard thing is that I tend to read a lot. Not nearly as much as I would like to, or as much as I used to, but a lot. At the same time, I have a pretty crappy memory, so I might answer these questions one way today, and if you asked me again in a year, or a week, you might get all different answers. :)

1. One book that changed your life?

"The Blood of Others", by Simone de Beauvoir. I read this my senior year in college, and I remember the feeling that I got from it...the idea that we are deeply responsible for our actions, because they can have truly profound effects upon others...great stuff. I remember while reading this book, I walked over to the movie theater near my house one rainy afternoon, and saw the movie "Glory". Somehow black battalion in the Civil War, trying to take control of their own destiny, seemed even more poingnant to me because of the book I was reading. (There was a film version of The Blood of Others, back in the mid-80s, but it pretty much stunk. Jodie Foster, but not her best work.)

2. One book you have read more than once?

I've read a lot of books more than once. I'm a re-reader. I've read "Gone With the Wind" and the Laura Ingalls Wilder books more times than I can count. (GWTW...Scarlett's conflict, between what she has to do, and what she things she SHOULD resonates with many, I think.) But for a grown up, serious book that I LOVE, I would answer "The Dead", by James Joyce. (I know, it's not a book, it's a short story. So sue me.) It's one of the most touching stories that I've ever read. I felt humbled by the experience. (They did a beautiful job with a movie version a while ago, too. If you're a John Huston fan, I believe this was his last film.)

Honorable Mention here would go to The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I love that book. The movie was good, but really, only after reading the book. I didn't understand the motivations well enough from the movie without that background. Milan Kundera is amazing.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

Probably Ulysses, by James Joyce. Why Ulysses? 2 reasons. 1. Because the time I tried to read it, I had to laugh at the phrase, "The sea, the sea, the snot green sea"; and, 2. Because stuck on a desert island is probably the only way I would ever get through it. It's a literary laberynth.

4. One book that made you cry?

I'm not sure any book has actually made me physically cry. I cry at movies all of the time, and songs, and commercials. But books, I can't think of any right now. However, some books have made me depressed and sick to my stomach, does that count? The Kite Runner and The Lovely Bones are two more recent examples that have really hit hard.

5. One book that made you laugh?

The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey. You can enjoy it online, here. Sick humor at its best. The first time I found this book was in a bookstore in Philadelphia, and Ted and I were cracking up. That's the bookstore where I first found Swami on Rye and Max Makes a Million, two books that I had to immediately buy for my as yet unborn child. I may not have even been pregnant yet, but I knew she had to have these books.

6. One book you wish had been written?

"How we ended poverty, hunger, war, and disease in the 20th century."

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Sadly, most textbooks. Boy, they can suck the life out of even the most interesting subjects.

8. One book you are currently reading?

I'm reading Eat Cake, which was recommended to me by Cherry and La Luna, both bakers and eaters of yummy cakes. I'm not as big a cake fan as they are, and I'm not very far in, but so far, so good. I'm enjoying it.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

I've been meaning to read Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens. My New Years Resolution last year was to read some of the classics of literature that I missed while I was in school. Along the way, I realized that I haven't read any Dickens. That made me feel somewhat uneducated, so I looked around and picked one. It's an interesting, though bleak, topic. Debters prisons in England in the 18th century. But 18th century novels are written in a different tempo, a different rythem than books today. You kind of have to get in a certain groove to really get into it, I think. At least, that's true for me. Maybe I'll reread "Pride and Predjudice" for practice.

10. Three people you will tag.
Emily - She's a new blog friend, and I think pretty literary, so I'll be interested to see her answers. If she doesn't want to do it, I'll understand. I mean, I tagged her very recently for another meme, and maybe she's tired of the damn things. Also, looking at her island meme from awhile ago, she kind of answered some of these already. Hell, I'm tagging her anyway.

Wendy - I'm always trying to figure out what makes her tick, so this could be interesting. She also did the island meme, I think, which had 5 books on it...but that's a different question, and she is on a different blog. So there.

Heidi - She of the amazing photography. I'd like to know what kind of books get her motor running.

Anyone else want to play? Write it up on your blog and let me know. I'd love to see your answers.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

13 6 Misc. Thursday Thoughts

1. Mr. Armani, jumping into the fray about overly thin fashion models (in Madrid recently, they forbade models with a BMI lower than 18. Medically, a BMI of under 20 is considered underweight.) "conceded that he had always used models "on the slender side", adding: "This was because the clothes I design and the sort of fabrics I use need to hang correctly on the body"." (Quote from Yahoo news.) OK, but then shouldn't the largest size you sell be a 0? Because if I'm understanding you correctly, a healthy woman cannot wear your clothing and have it 'hang correctly'. So, my advice? Either sell only to size 0 women, or start using different designs & fabrics. Asshole. (Asshole who admittedly does design some beautiful clothes. I just don't agree with his F**KED up logic.)

2. Anyone thinking of watching My Husband's Three Wives on TLC? No? Me neither. Well, maybe.

They're obviously trying to get in on the Big Love bandwagon, but we don't get HBO, so I can't watch Big Love, and I'll admit to being a touch intrigued by this one. I think it's more of a cheapo reality show, rather than a scripted drama. I know, it's sick and wrong of me, but I'm thinking about it.

3. Very cool...Maya has started guitar lessons. Her first instrument. :)
So far, so good.

4. Another nice thing about working from home...Maya's feeling a bit puny this morning, and I don't have to call in sick myself to be home with her.

5. Why is that darned laundry pile always so huge? The pile to be ironed seems to get bigger every day. One solution, of course, would be to stop washing the clothes, but that just transfers the problem to the dirty clothes hamper. Another solution would be to iron the clothes. Which I fully intend to do. Just as soon as I finish all of the other things I would prefer to do.

6. I wish I could find the perfect yoga class. I really like the teacher I have right now, but I kind of suspect she isn't correcting my posture as much as I would like. My stepmom teaches Iyengar style Yoga, and she's pretty darned great. She has a nice studio, and teaches each level separately. But she's in Portland, and I'm in the Bay Area. What I'm looking for is convenient timing (earlyish on a weeknight, cause I like to be home by 7 or so), level one only (I don't want to be slowing other people down when the teacher comes to show me things), and maybe Iyengar, with all of the props, etc. I don't know that I'm going to find all of that on this side of the tunnel. There is a place that has Iyengar downtown, but they group their levels together. My MIL teaches, but the times are later than I would like and she doesn't yet have the props. Maybe I'll just stick with the class I'm currently taking.

That's it. I was going to make this a Thursday 13, but I can't muster the other 7 misc. thoughts. I'm sure you're devastated. ;)


Saturday, we were driving around in the car, listening to the radio, and my perhaps favorite new song came on: "I Write Sins Not Tragedies", by Panic! at the Disco. Why do I like this song so much? Because, in addition to a catchy pop tune, it reminds me of my Grandpa. Here are the lyrics:

I'd chime in with a
"Haven't you people ever heard of
closing a goddamn door?!"
No, it's much better to face these
kinds of things with a sense of
poise and rationality.

I had to laugh, because that "Haven't you people ever heard of closing a goddamn door?!" sounded JUST like something he would say. He could be in the video.

Which is one way of saying that my Grandpa wasn't the nicest guy around. He could be downright abusive. He could also be kind and generous and loving. I suspect he was my first introduction to the concept that people can be complicated. That most folks aren't black and white, good and bad, right or wrong. Loving him as dearly as I did was an exercise in acceptance, I'll tell you, because he could be a mean SOB.

Anyway, he was my Grandpa, the man I called 'daddy' when I was small. He was 19 years older than my Grandma, so I never remember him as anything but old. He had that skinny old man body, too, kind of like George Burns. He had surgery at a young age that removed part of his stomach (I'm guessing due to some infection or another, but I'm not sure), and he could never eat very much, so he was always painfully thin.

I don't think I ever remember him saying those exact words, "Haven't you people ever heard of closing a goddamn door?!" but it does sound just exactly like something he would say.

Here are a few of his colloquialisms:
"I wouldn't cross the street to piss on her if her guts were on fire!"

"He's so stupid he couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel!"

"For the amount of money I spent on that cat, I could have had a dog!"

"It's always your friends who stab you in the back because you don't let your enemies get close enough."

"If a man is born to hang, you don't have to help it along, just get out from between him and the rope."

"2,400 square feet in this house, and you have to sit RIGHT in front of the damn TV!"

"If I had your nose full of nickels I'd be able to retire."

"She's six ax-handles across the ass."

"He sits when he pees."

"If you ever (did what I'm asking you to do, like get home on time, take out the garbage, etc.), I'd have a heart attack and die."

"You always take, you never give"

"Who was your slave this time last year?"

"Let's talk about little dogs with distemper." (His way of telling you it was time to change the subject.)
Thanks to my mom for remembering most of these. When I started reading, I was cracking up, because some of them are pretty funny. Then I started remembering how it made people FEEL when he said some of that stuff, and I kind of stopped laughing.

But then, I also remember the good things.
That he didn't make chocolate cake (oh, did he have a sweet tooth) when I was a little girl, because I had just had fillings and couldn't eat anything but mush that night.

That when I lost my Smokey the Bear, and I was walking around with my hand in a fist, he asked me what was in my hand. I said, my Smokey. That broke his heart, so he went and got another Smokey, and he told me that when he went to the hospital to get his emphysema treatment, Smokey was being wheeled out in a wheelchair, and was ready to come home to me. This was a scene that was unfortunately repeated several times.

That he took me with him to Mr. D's for burgers and potato chips for lunch. (So fancy! Served in a basket! With chips, not fries!)

That he would hold my hand when we watched TV, because he loved me.

That he came and got me at school when I was sick, and I went to his house and drank 7-Up until my mom got off of work.

That he took me to the pound to get Samantha when she got out of the yard, and he paid the fine for her not having a license.

Is it OK that I still love him? The mean, mean old man? Because I feel very conflicted, knowing the hell he put my mom, my aunt, and my uncle through, how miserable he made their home life as children. So miserable that my mom moved away to live with her Great Aunt. But even so, I love him very much.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My Horse Picture

When I was maybe 7 or 8 years old, my mom worked as both a Montessori school teacher, and because we all know how well teaching pays (esp a private school), she also worked at a local restaurant. The restaurant, as I remember it, was next door to a small art gallery, where they sold paintings by local artists. I'm not sure how we ended up going inside the gallery, but we did, and I fell in love with one of the paintings. It was of two horses, running in a field, and it was painted on a piece of wood. My love of horses knew no bounds, and this was the perfect painting. I was in love. The problem? The painting was expensive. It was $16.55. This was the early 70s, and $16.55 was a lot of money. My allowance was $0.75 a week.

My other love at the time was a dessert that they served at the restaurant where my mom worked. It was called a "European Iced Chocolate", and I think it was a tall glass with chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk, and some whipped cream. Sort of like a chocolate chocolate float, maybe. I'm not sure what made it 'European', but I sure loved them. Yummy. (That's when I was in my chocolate phase...all chocolate, all the time!) They were $0.50, and if I bought one with my allowance, I had to leave the other $0.25 as a tip for the waitress. My mother didn't want to raise stingy children. ;)

I was definitely in the habit of taking my $0.75 to the restaurant every week. But I also REALLY wanted that picture. My mom decided that $16.55 was just too much for a 7 or 8 year old to have to come up with, so she paid $10 to the gallery, and they put the picture on layaway for me. For you whippersnappers who may not know what layaway is, you put down part of the money up front, and then you make payments towards your desired object. I don't remember if I saved the $6.55 up and paid it all at once, but I kind of remember going in every week and giving them my $0.75. There I was, right next to the restaurant. The European Iced Chocolate was CALLING to me. I had to have it. But I also had to have that painting. So I resisted. For over 2 months, I resisted. It was a difficult two months.

Finally, the day came, and I was able to purchase my painting. I was SO proud of myself. So proud that I had saved that long, an eternity to a child. That I had foregone the delicacy that was a European Iced Chocolate for over 8 weeks. Amazing.
On the day when we finally went to get the picture, the woman behind the counter wrapped it carefully for me, and treated me with as much respect as any adult customer. Then my mom took me next door, and bought me a European Iced Chocolate to celebrate. That was probably the best one I ever had. :)

A year or so ago, I realized that I could probably make them at home, seeing as how they sell chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk, and whipped cream at Safeway. Not sure why it took me this long to figure it out, but c'est la vie, eh? So, just the other night, we had them for dessert. Yum.

Movie Time

We have watched several DVDs over the last few days...I watched "Last Holiday", which was cute, but I didn't laugh even once. It's a remake, and the premise, if you don't know, is that a quiet, mousy woman is told that she's going to die in a couple of weeks...which motivates her to take the bull by the horns and finally live life. She goes to Europe and spends a week or so living with such gusto, such abandon, that everyone around her is enthralled and falls under her spell of forthright talking and joie de vivre. Like I said, cute. No more.

We TRIED to watch "Super Troopers", but it was just too dumb, so we gave up. The idea, from what I could gather, was a small Vermont town with a bunch of pot head loser state troopers, battling the local police department in order to stay open. Supposed to be more fun than a bowl full of monkeys, but really, just about as much fun as one monkey that pees in your dishwasher. The best part of that one was singing the ABBA song, "Super Trooper" (Sup-poop-per Troop-poop-per).

Finally, we hit a jackpot. We watched The Girl in the Cafe, about a painfully shy, lonely man who is going to the G8 summit in Iceland, and on a whim, invites a shy, lonely girl whom he meets in a cafe to join him. I highly recommend it. Very good. In addition to being a good film, with a nice May/December type romance, it is a story of what good an individual can do in the world, how we can all, perhaps, make a difference. You know, just in case we're ever invited to the G8 summit. A nice balm for some of the cynicism that has been infecting me lately, and threatens to get worse by the time the stupid elections are behind us.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Birth Story

Black Belt Mama has a second blog, called Birth Story, where you can tell the story of the birth of your child if you want to. I wrote about Maya's birth there awhile ago, and my mom just wrote about my birth. If you're so inclined, go check it out. ;) (My mom's birth, Lilith Joycelyn, and my brother's birth, Richard Roland, are also there. Which led Maya to wonder if her Granny might write the story of my Grandma's birth as well.)


I was reading Dooce yesterday. I don't usually read her blog, because when someone gets 400+ comments on a post about nothing at all, I get a little jealous, and I don't want to hang with them anymore. Of course, she never knew I was hanging with her to begin with. Anyway, once in awhile, I'll come back and check out her blog, and see what's new in Dooceland.

On this particular day, she was talking about her friend Maggie (who is cousin to a friend of ours), another big time blogger, and how she has a book out called No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog. Cherry talked about this same book a few weeks ago, and I'm looking forward to hearing some of the ideas that come out of it, and what she does with them. The idea that Dooce picked up on was:
“What are your relationship deal breakers? Some folks are annoyed if a date shows up ten minutes late. Others look for something weightier, like a felony record. Have you ever rejected someone over something that seems insignificant to your friends? Or do you have selective blindness for red flags?”

To be fair, I haven't dated in so long, it's hard to remember what a deal breaker might be for me. I mean, Ted and I have been together since the end of 1987. I was only 21 (almost 22) at the time, so I didn't have a TON of experience in the dating world. But, here are the deal breakers from my short time dating:

1. The guy who says, "Lately, I've been dating mostly fat girls. I'm not sure why. I've decided, hey, I'm better than that, and so I'm dating thin chicks now." Um, not this thin chick, you asshat.

2. The guy who told me his favorite actor of all time was Tom Cruise. Even back then, that signified 'no brains here' to me.

3. The guy who wouldn't believe the things that I knew to be true, because I was a female. But would believe the same things from a man. Hated that.

4. The guy, who, when we were kissing, actually said, "If you don't leave now, you'll have to stay the night." Ugh. BYE!

OK, that's not a long list, but it's long enough. People are gross sometimes, huh? What were your dealbreakers, back in the day? (Or today, if you're still dating?)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sitcom Theme Songs I Can't Help But Sing Along With...

This one is kind of embarrasing, but I can't help myself. I totally ripped off the lovely Tracy at The Starshine Report, but really, I have no shame. ;) I've decided to pump it up a bit for you, though, so you can watch the videos yourself, and see/hear the theme songs. Enjoy!

1. The Jeffersons.
I dare you not to sing along. I, too, want a piece of the pie. And remember the interracial couple next door? The black woman was my boyfriend Lenny Kravitz's mom. Whew.

2. Alice.
This show was funny enough, but somehow, I just really liked the song. :)

3. One Day at a Time.
The older daughter had my name, but I identified more with Barbara. Until the time she came out of the shower in full make up. That was weird.

4. The Brady Bunch.
I know. I'm shameless. But really, unless you were like my sisters*, and didn't have TV, you surely know the words to this one:

*And if you're wondering how I had tv and my sisters didn't, obviously you haven't been reading my blog very long, because they're my half sisters, who were raised by my tv hating dad, and I was raised by my tv loving mom. :)

5. Happy Days.
OK, I know, very unhip and uncool now, but back in the day, this was the coolest show on TV. At least when you're 8 or however old I was. The song is very catchy, too. ;)

That's it. Hope you enjoyed it. How about you? Do you have favorite theme songs from the past that you're willing to admit to? Anyone?

PS, to Bite My Cookie, if you're reading this, I'm having a hell of a time commenting on your blog. Tried 4 times in three days, keep getting some kind of HTML error. WTF?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Zachary's Pizza

If you're from the Chicago area, you probably can get Chicago style pizza any time you want. I've never been closer to Chicago than I-80, driving from San Francisco to Philadelphia, so I don't know for sure. But if you live in the Bay Area, the best place to get Chicago style pizza is indisputably at Zachary's. The problem is that Zachary's is always CROWDED. There is one location in Oakland, another in Berkeley, and the wait is often over an hour. So the 'in the know' solution is to get your pizza 'half baked', and take it home, finish cooking it there, and enjoy.

Well, good news to those of us on the "wrong side of the tunnel" as I like to say. There's a brand new Zachary's restaurant, located in San Ramon, and boy, it's tasty pizza. If you don't know Chicago Style pizza (at least what Zachary's calls Chicago style I said, I've never been to Chicago), it's deep dish, which at Zachary's, means stuffed pizza. From their web site:

  • Different from a traditional "deep dish" pizza or calzone, stuffed pizza is unique.
  • We begin this luscious creation with a bottom layer of dough inside a two inch deep pan.
  • A hearty helping of cheese topped with ingredients of your choice are added next.
  • Then another thin layer of dough covers the ingredients, and our zesty tomato sauce tops the pie!
  • As the pizza cooks, the top layer of dough will melt into the cheese, and the result is a delicious pie that you will enjoy!

  • Looking at their webpage, I'm thinking Z's takes a bit of liberty, and it's different than other Chicago style pizzas.

    No matter. What matters here is that it's seriously yummy pizza, and that the best time to go is probably at the most inconvenient time, because if it's inconvenient for you, it's probably inconvenient for others as well. We went at 4:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday, their 4th day of business. They were full, asked for our name, but as we were giving it to them, a table came available. By the time we left, there was quite a long wait outside. Consider yourself warned.

    They are famous for their Spinach and Mushroom pizza. It's their signature dish, really. Unfortunately, spinach isn't such a lovely thing to eat right now, so they weren't serving it. No matter. Avoiding meat for our newly vegetarian daughter, we opted for the Mediterranean Pizza, which was filled with a mixture of red bell peppers, artichoke hearts, and green olives with feta and jack cheeses. The menu didn't say so, but the red bell peppers tasted roasted to me, if that matters.

    So, if you live in the Bay Area, and you're at all interested in Pizza, please note that there are now THREE Zachary's you can visit, and they are all yummy, and, fortunately for them, they are ALL very busy.

    A side note...seems that the owners, Barbara and Zachary, are retiring, and instead of selling the restaurants, they have decided to make it an employee owned business. Pretty cool, huh?

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    I'm Just Sayin'

    I bought a cute dress at once, and now I get these emails telling me of their new lines, etc. The one I received yesterday came with the subject line, "Snazz up your office wardrobe", and this picture. Tell me, if the girl in the middle doesn't work at Vogue, where could that possibly be appropriate office attire? I've only been working from home for a few months here...has office culture changed THAT much? Wait...maybe she works from home, so she can wear whatever she wants? I'm thinking maybe she should add a bra to her ensamble.

    Friday, September 15, 2006


    Did you know that Maya was born on Jupiter? Perhaps that would explain why she's so darned smart and beautiful and yummy as well. I love this picture. She's just so pretty. :)

    When she was a baby, she had a birthmark on the back of her head. It was a large red hemangioma (sometimes called a 'strawberry'), which looked remarkably like the big red spot on Jupiter. So we decided that she was FROM Jupiter, and thus, a Jupterian.

    When she was little, and asked where babies came from, we gave her a couple of answers. We sometimes told her the truth, and we sometimes told her that she was from Jupiter. That all babies are on different planets in our solar system, and they get transported into their mother's womb just before birth. Well, maybe a few months before. Don't try to tie me down with logic here, OK?

    Anyway, this never caused any real confusion on her part...she knew the truth, and she knew the fun, and she liked them both. (Though she always thought the sex part was kind of gross...)

    One day, when she was maybe 4, we were shopping at Lunardis (grocery store near us), and she was sitting in the cart, and suddenly her friends on Jupiter transmitted some secret code to her, which caused her to overcome her debilitating shyness long enough for her to tell everyone we passed that she was from Jupiter. What I liked best about that day was that not one person blew her off, or said, "Oh, really?" and looked at me in that semi-superior way that some adults have, and that sensible children find unbearable. No, they all played along. She got answers like, "Really? I'm from Saturn. Aren't Earthlings STRANGE?" or, "That's great. My sister's from Jupiter. Have you met?" She must have told 10 people of her intergalactic heritage, and not one person batted an eyelash.

    My summation of all of this? Apparently, not ALL people suck.

    *This post is really just an excuse for me to share this picture, because I love it so much. And it's a cute story, and I didn't have a blog when it happened...

    Thursday, September 14, 2006

    Old Friends

    Old friends,
    Old friends
    Sat on their park bench
    Like bookends.
    A newspaper blown though the grass
    Falls on the round toes
    Of the high shoes
    Of the old friends.

    Old friends,
    Winter companions,
    The old men
    Lost in their overcoats,
    Waiting for the sunset.
    The sounds of the city,
    Sifting through trees,
    Settle like dust
    On the shoulders
    Of the old friends.

    Can you imagine us
    Years from today,
    Sharing a park bench quietly?
    How terribly strange
    To be seventy.
    Old friends,
    Memory brushes the same years
    Silently sharing the same fears.
    - Paul Simon

    Does anyone understand how it is that friendships grow, then wither away? How do we come to be so very close to someone, and then one day look back and realize that it's been years since we spoke? Sometimes we are the initiator of this change, and sometimes, it is merely inertia that does a friendship in. I have a few friends, friends whom I thought would be with me forever, and now, I'm not so sure. I thought we'd be like those friends on the park bench that Paul Simon talks about. Only time will tell.

    The first of these friends, I'll call Leslie. This is because her name is Leslie. We met at Delta Jr. College in Stockton, maybe in a History class. Leslie is tall and beautiful and smart and wonderful. Leslie and I became close, and I came to think of her as one of my very dearest friends. We agreed on politics, we agreed on movies and books and we had a similar sense of humor. I loved her. I wanted her to be in my life always. When we first moved to San Francisco, she lived a block away from in an apartment, she in the USF dorms. We saw each other often. When she moved to the east coast, we kept in touch. These were the days before email, and we wrote letters and made phone calls. We went to the east coast for a convention, and she cancelled a camping trip so she could come visit us. When she came to the west coast, we would get together for drinks and dinner. We always had a great time. She moved back west, we moved out east, she moved back east, and through it all, we were friends.

    Then, something happened, and we lost touch. I wrote. She didn't write back. I called. She didn't return my call. Finally, I got desperate, and I called her mother (a wonderful woman whom I considered a friend as well.) I asked her if her Leslie was OK. She said, No, Leslie isn't OK. She's going through a divorce (I was her maid of honor, she was one of my bridesmaids), and she's terribly depressed. Don't give up on her. So I didn't. I kept trying. She called me one day, and I cried with relief to talk to her. But after the first part of the conversation, where she told me of her divorce, of how she had gotten back together with her high school boyfriend, who was also divorced, and how she was going to move to Idaho soon, our conversation sort of...faltered. It was like, beyond catching up, we didn't have much to say to each other anymore. Was it that our lives were too different, me with my toddler, she with her divorce? Was it just time that had passed? I don't know. She promised me that when she moved to Idaho, she would call and give me her new number. That was over 8 years ago, and she has never called. My number hasn't changed. At one point, I mailed a letter to her, in care of her mother, but she never wrote back. Maybe she didn't want to be friends anymore. Maybe she couldn't use her words and tell me that she didn't like me anymore. It's possible. But boy, it hurt.

    Which reminds me of a friend of Ted's, who he no longer wanted to be friends with. They had been very close for years, but the friendship had changed, and the friend couldn't come over without them getting into a shouting match about something. I don't think that Ted ever told him that he didn't want to be friends anymore (although they did have some conversations, trying to figure out what the anger was about, so it's not like he didn't TRY to fix it), but when this friend would call, Ted wouldn't call back. When I think of this friend, I think, is that me? Am I the annoying friend who won't go away, and Leslie is Ted? Because honestly, I've done that before...ignored someone's calls until they went away, just because they had become SO unpleasant to be around. But my vanity doesn't want to accept that I could be the person on the other end of this relationship.

    But even if all it was was inertia on her part, it hurt me deeply to know that I wasn't important enough for her to try a little. I'm going to write her whole name here, in case she might someday google herself, find me here, and contact me. My phone number is in the book, Leslie Lucchesi. If you're ever interested, I'm here.

    God, I sound pathetic.

    Then there are the friends that I have lost through inertia.

    Karol Ann, whom I also met in Stockton, at a hotel we both worked at. We were very close for a short time, and at this point, we are Christmas card friends. We write to each other once a year, but we don't take the time to get together, even though we only live about an hour away from each other.

    Neva, who was my best friend in 6th grade. We slept at each others houses every weekend. We loved each other like sisters. Then we went to different Jr. High schools, and nothing was the same again. This one, happily, has a happy ending. We got in touch about 5 or 6 years ago, through, and we are darling friends again. We get together for dinner, we laugh, we shop, we eat and drink and are merry. Thank god for Neva, who knew me even before I had boobs.

    Rosemary, my soulmate friend. We met in the 9th grade, and we were best friends, literally, from the first day we met. (And you know I don't use literally unless I mean it!) We were so very close for so very long. I loved her more than I loved myself. And I suspect we will come together again as our lives slow down, but at this point, she is so damned busy that she only has a passing thought to spare for me, only a bit of time to spare so we can get together when she's in town (they live on the east coast). This hurts a lot. I miss her. But I don't know what to do about it. She is one of the most defensive people I know, and if I confront her, will she even hear me? I guess if I care this much, I need to at least try.

    Rainie, another Stockton friend. She moved to San Francisco a semester before I did, and we attended San Francisco State together. She was the first of my friends to get married. The first to have a baby. Her husband is Pakistani, and they moved there in '92 so they could care for his aging parents. They returned to the US when Pakistan started getting scary fundamentalist, and we got together once, but neither of us has bothered beyond that.

    Why is that? Why is it that there are these people in life, people that you love so damned much, they feel like your tell them everything about yourself, they tell you everything, you share so many joys and sorrows...and then...they just drift away, only to be replaced by newer friends, perhaps as close, perhaps as not, but people who are willing to make the effort required to maintain a relationship? I don't know. Do I need a psychology class? Or perhaps a sociology class? Or maybe, I just need to make more of an effort. But so far, my experience has been that this effort is one sided, and I get tired of feeling like I'm not worth the effort that the other person would have to make.

    I wish I understood this kind of thing.

    Rest In Peace, Ann

    I was sorry to boot up my computer this morning and learn that Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, had succomed to cancer. I wrote about her once before, here. She was a hell of a woman, and we sure need more like her. She will be missed in the fight for what's right.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006


    I don't even know what to say about this...I was just reading Salon's Broadsheet, and came across a trifecta of bullshit that should make every woman in the United States wretch, and hopefully, make both men and women understand why it is so important that we claim the term Feminist, and fight this shit. I don't have the energy to try to paraphrase, so I'm just going to copy and paste.

    Some days there is just so much repulsive news that it would be, well, criminally depressing to separate it into three separate entries. So for everyone's vomitous convenience, I present the three grossest stories of the day, in no particular order.

    The first item is technically not a "today" story. In fact, Page Rockwell mentioned it briefly in Friday's "What Else We're Reading." But have you seen these Bratz dolls and their provocative underwear sets? These little pink and purple numbers include padded "bralettes" to better enhance your 6-year-old's cleavage. According to a piece in Saturday's Australian Herald Sun, these sets are for girls who are 6 and 7 years old. That's kindergarten, first grade, second grade, folks. And don't let the diminutive "bralette" fool you. These are brassieres. For Broadsheet readers who may not have experience with this: Girls that age do not typically wear bras. At all. Because they do not have breasts. Because they are children.

    A spokeswoman from Bratz distributor Funtastic told the Herald Sun that the notion that the bras might sexualize children was silly. "The idea of the padding is for girls to be discreet as they develop ... It is more about hiding what you have got than showing it off." A Target spokesperson likewise argued that the padded bras "give girls modesty and style as they go through development changes." The message is that everyone should calm down: No one's trying to make your little girls voluptuous by selling them padded bras. They're just trying to make them feel shame about their bodies six years before puberty!

    While rummaging around the Web for more information on the "bralettes," I found this blog entry that also has photos of some Bratz dolls, Phoebe "Sugar" and Roxxi "Spice," dressed only in cropped fur and leather jackets and their undergarments. The dolls have baby milk bottles chained to their ankles. Because, like so many imps named "Roxxi," they just love to hang out in their lacy underthings and furs and drink milk from their sippy cups.

    Onward and upward to our next uplifting tale: today's report in the New York Post about two waitresses suing the pub that employed them for sexual harassment. Their particular harassment is what makes this story stand out. The women claim that they were regularly weighed by their bosses, who also kept track of their poundage on a spreadsheet and on a Web site that supposedly tracked and compared the weights of the female serving staffs of other New York City eateries. One of the waitresses, Kristen McRedmond, told the Post that she was summoned into the manager's office, where she was told she "needed to get on the scale." When she resisted, she claims that a manager tried to pick her up and put her on the scale while another man looked on. McRedmond and her fellow complainant allege that only female workers were asked to weigh in, and that managers would comment when the female wait staff ordered fatty fried food for their own dinners. The women's lawyer, Rosemarie Arnold, told the Post, "I've been doing sexual-harassment law for 20 years, and this has to be the most egregious case of degradation to women that I have ever seen."

    And last but by no means least on the barfometer is this fashion spread, singled out by Gawker yesterday, from Italian Vogue. Called "State of Emergency," it's a series of photographs by Steven Meisel in which, in a moving tribute to a post-9/11 world, scantily clad women in vertiginous heels and various states of undress are subjected to a stunning array of physical brutalities at the hands of big policemen. Some of the highlights include a woman being forced to the ground by officers, her dress pulled up and her legs spread with a cop's knee between them; a model who has been shoved against a car, her dress also hiked to a height at which her lower ass is visible, her legs forcibly separated; a woman in a red cocktail dress, prone on a dirty sidewalk with a big boot stomping her neck. And then there's the woman who's being strip-searched in an airport, standing in a lacy black bra.

    You can just about imagine all these stories getting rolled into one arresting photo spread: a 6-year-old girl clad only in her bralette being forced at gunpoint to stand on a scale.

    -- Rebecca Traister

    Please join me in outrage and disgust.


    I have an idea for a post kind of percolating in my head, but it's not fully formed, and it's somewhat depressing, so I'm not ready to write it up yet. Maybe tomorrow. So, for today, I'll mention a few of the little things that I'm thankful for in my life.

    I'm thankful that the combination of Oxy Clean and the new Bissell that Ted bought yesterday (yay Sears! This link isn't to's to a post that I read about them) removed all traces of orange dog barf from our bedroom carpet. Also that Ted and the Bissell worked together to get some of the worst of the 'high traffic' (read, dog sleeps there) areas clean yesterday.

    I'm thankful that we were able to afford the wonderful vacuum cleaner that Ted bought yesterday. It's GREAT. We've never been able to buy such a nice one before, one that SHOULD last more than 2 or 3 year. (No, it's not a Kirby. We didn't win the Lotto or anything.)

    I'm thankful that ML did my food meme, because hers caused me to crave sushi all day, and being the spoiled brat that I am, Ted took us out for sushi last night. Nice.

    I'm thankful for Maya's involvement in the Girl Scouts. For all of my complaining about how much involvement it takes from the moms, when it's really the girls' thing, it is a great program, and I think she's learning great things from it. For example, there is a shelter in our area called Bay Area Crisis Nursery, which is a place that families in crisis can go during their time of need. We've been a little bit involved with them in years EDS, there was something called Global Volunteer Day, where all employees were encouraged to form teams and take on a volunteer project in their community. My team volunteered to help out at the BACN by painting a few rooms for them one day. It was fun, and Ted and Maya were able to come and paint as well, even though they weren't employees of EDS. Well, that wall we painted was torn down this week. They are tearing down the Nursery, and doing a Miracle Makeover, which means they will be rebuilding VERY quickly, in something like 10 days. There will be crews working there in shifts, 24 hours a day during this time. Maya's girl scout troop knows of the Nursery...they went and wrapped gifts for the children who were housed there last year. When they found out about the Miracle Makeover, they decided they wanted to help out, so after school today, they're going over to the troop leaders house and making a meal for the workers, which they will then deliver this evening. We live in a fairly affluent community, and our girls are somewhat sheltered. It's nice to see them involved in a program where they can learn to give back to the community in such a hands on way. Of course, in addition to the volunteering, Girl Scouts emphasizes the girls doing things themselves and being very self reliant, which I also really like. I was raised to be very self reliant, and Montessori also teaches this, but I notice that I tend to do a lot of things for Maya, because it's faster and easier. I'm doing her a disservice, I realize, and I'm working on it. (Ted's much better about having her do things for herself. If it were up to me, I'd probably still be bathing her at bedtime.) So between Ted, Girl Scouts, and Montessori, and maybe some backing off on my part, I'm sure she'll turn out to be self reliant. ;) Thanks, Girl Scouts.

    I'm thankful to live in the Bay Area. To be able to go to the Monet exhibit last week was a treat. To have so many different opportunities so close to us is a great thing. Of course, I do get tired of hot summers and Republicans (we are in the East Bay, after all, on the wrong side of the tunnel), but I can deal with both.

    I'm thankful for fake meat. Maya has decided to give vegetarianism a shot, and while I want to support her wholeheartedly, I like to eat meat, and I don't want to join her. I also don't want to make two meals every night. So I'm thankful that there are fake chicken strips and things like that that we can serve her when we have regular chicken. The rest of the meal we can all eat. :) Thanks, Morningstar Farms!

    I'm thankful for the Advil Cold and Sinus I just took. I have a sinus thing today, and usually those help a lot. I'm hoping this will be one of those times.

    I'm thankful that although I have seen a bluejay flying around outside of my window, it has yet to start waking me up in the morning with obnoxious bluejay screams. I don't mind them during the day, only when I'm trying to sleep. So maybe this one's nest is far enough away that I don't have to listen to it. I'm glad.

    I'm thankful that the price of gas is finally under $3 a gallon. Still way too high, but it's getting a bit better.

    That's my list for today. I'm thankful for a lot of other things as well...both big and small, personal and global. But jeez, that could take all day. :)

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    The Post Where I Literally Murder my Readers with Boredom...

    This was one of those weekends where you are so very busy, and you take a peek at the activities that are planned, and you think, if I had no child, this would be a COMPLETELY different weekend. Not better. Not worse. Different.

    Friday, I took the day off of work, and chaperoned Maya's class to the Monet Exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. All I can say is, WOW. There are some paintings that just real life. I've seen pictures of Monet's Japanese bridge with waterlillies for as long as I can remember. On posters, greeting cards, whatever. It's background noise for the eyes. Then, there I was, in a VERY crowded room, stifling with too many warm bodies all milling about, and there was this amazing painting, with texture and depth and nuance only hinted at in the posters and cards and so on. It was claustrophobic and crowded and annoying, and really, really wonderful. There were so many pictures that I had never seen before, paintings that are wonderful and rare and so beautiful. (And it was a beautiful, foggy day in the city...with glimpses of the Golden Gate through the cypress trees, it was cool and damp and a balm to those of us in the East Bay, where today it is supposed to be 90 degrees.)

    Side note: You all know of my love for my iPod, and some of you know that I love to listen to This American Life on said beloved iPod. Well, a week or so ago, I was listening to This American Life, and the program was about Americans who live in Paris, and why. It was a pretty interesting program, especially the part from the black woman who loves Paris because there she is American first, not black first, and she gets tired of the racism she finds here in America. She is the first to admit that her American accent grants her friendliness not afforded to those with African accents, but enjoys it nonetheless. But I'm digressing too far here. On that same program was a bit by David Sedaris, a frequent commentator on This American Life. He was saying that he doesn't go to museums, because he doesn't see the point in standing in front of paintings and looking at them. Finds no joy or real beauty there. He's never been to the Louvre, or the Picasso Museum, or any of the other famous museums in Paris. I try not to judge others for being different than I am, but when I hear of someone who finds no beauty in museums, I find that I just don't quite understand them as well as I thought I did. I was reminded of Mr. Sedaris' museum comments while we were in the city.

    Friday night, after returning on a school bus of bedlam, we got cleaned up and went to a party at the board presidents house. I served a 3 year term on the school board at Maya's school, and he was having a party for the outgoing and incoming members. It was nice. Cold, not too many people, but still, nice.

    Saturday, we went to breakfast, which was nice, but then we parted ways. Ted went to a birthday party for his dad, and after that to a party at his bosses house. Maya and I went to a Girl Scout cabin in Hayward, which was a very strange place, and just maybe a bit too long to spend in a big room with 19 other people. It was a mother-daughter planning session, where we talked about our goals for this year in Girl Scouts, they talked about their goals, we did exercises to get to know each other better, we cooked and cleaned together, took a hike, found a cemetery, got stung (not me, one of the scouts), basically bonded. Which was all very nice, but I wish it had been an all day thing, instead of 4pm Saturday until 2pm Sunday. Ugh. Not so fond of sleeping on mats on the floor in a room crowded with people I don't really know that well. During some mom-down-time, I walked around a bit. The cabin is located behind the "Hayward Plunge", which is this really old building with an indoor pool, for the community to use. It looked pretty worn out to me. But I saw the sign that said it's 70 years old this year, so I guess that's why. I'll probably look somewhat worn out when I'm 70, too. There was also a little cemetery (All Saints Cemetery, it was named) behind the cabin, which kind of freaked one of the girls out. She had a hard time sleeping, and she cried a lot. Poor kid. And selfishly, poor us, because we couldn't sleep either, with her crying. Sigh. (Another side note...I'm so used to seeing modern cemeteries, with their manicured lawns and quaint names for the areas, it's always kind of strange to come across a forgotten place like this one, dried out, littered with broken glass and vodka bottles, with smashed headstones and broken hearts...I always wonder about the people who were left behind...are they dead now, too? The most recent headstone that I saw was 1945, most of the people seemed to have died in the 20s and 30s. And mostly from other countries, maybe.)

    We came home after that, and took much needed showers, and vegged out.

    Monday, after taking Maya to school, I went to a training for a program that I'm implementing at Maya's school. It's not new in the area, but it is new to the school, and I'll be the coordinator. It seems like a really GREAT program, and I'm looking forward to it. The program consists of parents getting trained at the Health and Human Services place (21 hours of training, plus the coordinator training I did yesterday), and then you go back to the school and train the kids to resist drugs and tobacco, deal with bullies, look skeptically at advertising and marketing, deal with alcoholism, on and on and on. What a great program.

    So, that was my weekend. It rudely ended this morning, with the barfing of Genevieve, right by my ear. Thankfully, the Oxy Clean seems to have worked. Whew.

    More Later...

    Why 8 year old daughters are superior to 8 year old dogs:

    My then 8 year old daughter, at 4:50am about a year and a half ago:
    "Mama, I threw up."
    "In the toilet."

    My NOW 8 year old dog, at 4:50am this morning:

    Oh, you have to know, the carpet cleaner died awhile ago, and the vacuum cleaner died on Sunday, and I've had 4 days off from work, so really don't have time to go shopping for new ones right now. But you will have to wait for my regularly scheduled post, because I kind of have to deal with the barf this morning. I'm gonna try Oxy.

    More Later, I promise. Can't promise it will be GOOD, but there will be something.

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Edelmiro Abad

    Edelmiro Abad of Brooklyn at a wedding with his close-knit family: his wife, Lorraine, and in white from left, daughters Serena, 19, Rebecca, 26, and Jennifer, 23.

    Beloved husband, proud father, loving son, brother, uncle and dear friend are words that best describe Edelmiro Abad. Ed touched the lives of all who knew him with loving words, a kind gesture, or his unique sense of humor. Ed lived a happy, fulfilled life with his wife of 29 years and three daughters. He also enjoyed a successful career with Fiduciary Trust for 26 years. His co-workers and clients became more than just friends; they became family. Although we have lost a beautiful person, we have truly gained an angel. We love you, we miss you, and we will meet again.

    He was my mentor and friend. He was always there when I needed him professionally and personally. First and foremost always were "his girls." He would always burst with pride when he told us about his writer, his dancer, his chef and Lorraine just being Lorraine. Ed was loved and respected by all who had the privilege of knowing him. Ed, thank you for your strength and kindness. I will miss you more than you could ever know.

    -Michele Kearney

    Back in June, I read on Ally Bean's site about this project, called the 2996 project, where you can volunteer to take the name of one victim from the September 11th attacks, and write a memorial to that person. I was assigned the name of Ed Abad.

    This project seems far removed to me, far removed from my life in California, 3,000 miles from New York, DC, and Pennsylvania, where people suffered immeasurable horrors on that day. And yet, I thought, maybe I can do my part. Maybe I can write about how this loss, the loss of Mr. Abad and so many, too many, others has affected me. How it has affected us all.

    September 11th, was, for me, supposed to be a day when I went into Oakland for a payroll conference, learning about boring changes to reporting requirements from the spokespeople from the Social Security Administration. It was a chance to get out of the office, maybe have lunch in a different place, learn some new things about my newish job.

    I was in the shower, getting ready, when Ted came in and told me that his Aunt had called his mother, called from England since she knew we were so far removed, time wise, and might not yet be up and watching TV or listening to the news. Ted told me that someone had flown a plane into the World Trade Center. By the time I got downstairs, the first tower had fallen...they were showing the second plane hitting, over and over again. I remember the horror that I felt, not knowing whether this was the work of foreign terrorists, or perhaps the work of another Timothy McVeigh type psychopath. I remember worrying about Ted and his family, about the fear that was felt by many people of color, of that certain color, during the first Gulf War, that they would be targeted for acts of violence and hatred.

    Then the second tower fell. It was such a horrid time, such an amazingly horrid event in the history of our country. I remember thinking...this is what people in Northern Ireland, Israel, Kashmir, and London have been living with for years. Now it has come here.

    My boss came to my house, not sure if what he had heard on the radio was true, or if it was a stupid radio stunt. He knew by my face that it was true. We left from here to go to Oakland for our conference, not sure that that was the thing to do, but oddly holding on to normalcy. We arrived in Oakland, went through maybe 15 minutes of training, before the Federal Building there was shut down as a precaution. So we went home. Then in to the office, oddly. In retrospect, I'm not sure why we went. Just habit I suppose, like I went into work the day after the earthquake in '89. Stayed at work for a few hours, watching the news unfold, crying quietly in my cubicle. Finally the word came that we should go home.

    I came home, hungry for more news. Turned on the TV, only to see pictures of people, desperate people, jumping to their deaths from the top of the twin towers. It was the most horrid sight I have ever seen in my life. I hope to never see anything like it again. I turned off the TV, cried, cleaned house, tried to get some idea of how to deal with this.

    I remember the weeks following...the days of strange quiet in the air when no airplanes flew...knowing that there were no airplanes, from coast to coast, border to border. It was a very strange feeling.

    I remember being told by my leader that we needed to act normal, that we needed to go shopping, to keep our economy afloat. This cut me to the quick. I wanted to give up something, as the victims of the attacks had done. As our grandparents had done after Pearl Harbor, with their shortages and sacrifice, that you felt and knew were contributing to the greater good of America, the fight against evil. Instead, we were asked to go shopping.

    I knew then that we would attack Iraq. Hoped in my heart that I was wrong. Hoped that our leader would not take this opportunity to settle a grudge against the man who shamed his father. But deep down, I feared that I would turn out to be right on this.

    I remember the day my mother and I had chosen to go to an Afghani restaurant for dinner, and decided it was somehow wrong to change those plans because of current circumstances...that maybe if we went, we would be telling the people who ran the restaurant that we understood that THEY were not the Taliban. THEY were not Al Quaeda. THEY were not the people who had attacked our nation. The day we chose, sadly, was the day that the U.S. started dropping bombs on Afghanistan. Our waiter walked around like a man in a dream, a man in a nightmare. I felt like we were there to support him, but that maybe, he just wanted to be home, alone, to not have to serve food to strangers, white strangers, and wonder what we thought of him, if he even had those thoughts at that time. Any thoughts to spare save those for his friends and family at home.

    I remember that there were songs that were not supposed to be played on the radio. One of those songs was U2, Sunday Bloody Sunday. To this day, the opening lyrics tie me with September 11th, with the pain and horror of watching those buildings fall, of watching people fall to their deaths rather than stay in such a toxic, horrid building.

    I can't believe the news today
    I can't close my eyes, and make it go away
    How long, how long must we sing this song,
    How long?

    Now, 5 years later, how am I to put any sort of perspective on that day. On the many, many horrid days since that day. On the loss of American life, the loss of life for our allies from England, France, Germany, Australia, etc. The loss of Iraqi life, the loss of Afghani life in a now mostly ignored war....what to say about the more recent loss of life in Israel and Lebanon...what to say about the hatred in our hearts, that pits person against person so venemously.

    I want to say moving, amazing words to remember them all. To remember Ed Abad, of Brooklyn, who I committed to commerate this day. And truly, I don't know how.

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    5 Things to Eat Before You Die

    I saw this meme on Lotus Reads, and she did such a beautiful job with it, I thought that I would try it out, even though she didn't tag me. I loved the thought she put into her answers, and the pictures.

    I've done several memes where one of the questions is "5 favorite foods" or something like that. For a question like that, my answer is generally something along the lines of 'Rib Eye, Heirloom tomatoes, cheetos...", that kind of thing. Things I love and eat often.

    This meme, however, is titled "5 things you should eat before you die", which implies that these should be special things, things that you would recommend to people wholeheartedly. So, here I am, wholeheartedly recommending my list of 5 things you should eat, at least once, before you die.

    1. Thanh Long Roasted Crab.

    Thanh Long is a restaurant way out in the Sunset District, in San Francisco. Ted's Aunt has been going there for years, since the crab was $7. Nowadays, it's probably closer to $35. It's worth it. They roast a whole dungeness crab in butter, garlic, oil, pepper, and secret things. It's incredibly yummy. They also have other crabs on the menu. Drunken Crab, cooked in white wine, good for those watching their cholesterol; and Sweet and Sour Crab. My advice? Get your veggies in at lunchtime, go to Thanh Long and order the roast crab and a plate of garlic noodles, and follow it up with fried bananas and ice cream. Yum. A warning: it's REALLY messy. Ted's cousin, Michelle, can eat it and only get two fingers on each hand messy. She's the only person on earth with this skill. So don't dress too fancy. A suggestion: they have crab all year, but it's best in mid to late fall. Mmmm.

    They have a few sister restaurants. Crustacean in San Francisco (At the corner of Polk and California streets, at the cable car turnaround), another Crustacean in Beverly Hills, and it looks from their website like they're opening another restaurant on Sutter Street, in San Francisco, on Nob Hill. I assume that from the name of the restaurant, 536 Sutter. It could be a Sutter Street somewhere else.

    2. Dinner at Laperouse in Paris.

    We went there on our honeymoon in 1993. I wrote about it once before, but it bears reminding you, because every single bite was AMAZING. We've eaten at some pretty amazing restaurants, most notably in San Francisco and Philly, but nothing compares to Laperouse. Nothing even comes close. So yeah, go to Paris. Eat there. Thank me later.

    3. Raspberries that never make it into the pail.

    You're out in the woods, it's a warm summer day, dragonflies are buzzing around, and that sweet/tart taste is perfect. If you can manage to get a few home, eat them over good vanilla ice cream. (If you're not a big fan of the raspberry, substitute blueberries, blackberries, marionberries, whichever you like best. For me, it's raspberries.)

    4. Salmon that you caught that day, brought home and grilled, along with fresh broccoli from your own garden.

    It doesn't hurt if you're in Alaska, by the way. Good stuff. Amazingly good. When I caught my salmon, there were 'chum salmon' running, which means they were traveling from the ocean to their home rivers to spawn. The spot at the mouth of the river looked like it was boiling with fish. There were bald eagles circling around, and ravens looking for a meal. It was the only time I've ever killed my own food, and I'm thinking I would do it again, in a heartbeat.

    5. A really good glass of wine or champagne.

    Veuve Cliquot will do nicely. Especially if you pair it with the right meal, it can be sublime. The right cabernet with steak or duck, the right chardonnay with your pasta, can be a revelation. But really, I've had Veuve Cliquot with Taco Bell. (Only once, at a bridal shower, because that's the kind of girl she was!) And you know what? Best Taco Bell I had ever eaten. VC goes with almost anything.

    So there's my list. I'll tag a few folks as well, and see what comes up. :)
    1. La Luna
    2. Cherry
    3. ML
    4. Emily
    5. Jay

    If anyone else wants to do this one, let me know. I'd love to read it!

    This meme was started by Melissa at Travelers Lunchbox. Let her know if you participate. If you want to see other people's suggestions, check out her original post. There are hundreds. :)

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty

    Has anyone else out there ever found yourself up too late, watching TV, and flipping channels, and you come across the train wreck that is "Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty"? (Let me take a moment to tell you that in searching for photos of Shannen showing her big nasty gap-toothed smile that makes me think, 'braces', 'cosmetic dentistry', and 'frenectomy', I came across the news that 90210 will finally be released on DVD this fall...oh, I'm almost tempted, but $62 for one season? WTF?)

    So, here's the premise of her new show. Girl wants to break up with boy, but she's such a LOSER FREAK that she thinks it will be "fun" to break up with him on TV with Shannen's help. Well, here comes King Karma, and we quickly discover that boy is cheating on girl, because he's a 'player' (a term he uses quite proudly). Now that she knows he's a player, she REALLY wants to dump him, but she also wants a little bit of humiliation thrown in, for fun. Why are these people breaking up? They seem so well suited. All of this is before the first commercial break.

    After the break, Shannen gloats while pig boy (aka, player) watches loser freak girl break up with him on video. He's still proud of being a 'player', and doesn't care that he just got dumped on TV. If his friends are the same high quality as these two, it will probably get him dates. Shannen is all snotty and superior with him, like she wouldn't be all over him like a cheap suit if there were no cameras running. The worst thing about the show, I think, was that in addition to being cruel and really dumb, it was BORING. I'm thinking it won't be on the air for very long, which, I can assure you, is a good thing. And I promise you, right now, if we are ever selected as a Nielson family, I will NOT admit to watching this drek, thereby keeping it on the air one second longer. I swear it.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Getting Crotchety in My Old Age

    I think I'm turning into a curmudgeon. I find that I often don't trust the service offered by young people anymore. I'm almost ready to call them 'whippersnappers'. Case in point, there's a breakfast place we enjoy in San Ramon called Katy's Korner. A few months ago, I discovered that they make really yummy Huevos Rancheros, which is three eggs, simmered in salsa, and served on a big plate with black beans, tortillas, sour cream, and maybe some avocado. Mmmmm. Yummy. The waitresses at Katy's Korner all seem like they've been there awhile, they know what they're doing, they know what they're talking about. They're not old, by any stretch, but maybe mid 30s to young 50s.

    Enter Katy's Kreek into the equation. This is Katy's Korner's new little sister, located in downtown Walnut Creek. I wrote about it back in June. We have been there a few times so far, and I was happy to see one of the waitresses from Katy's Korner on the staff, showing the new employees the ropes.

    Well, last week we went to Katy's Kreek for breakfast, and the Korner waitress was nowhere in sight. Just all new folks. OK, that's fine. Except it didn't really occur to anyone that Ted might like some more coffee. We had to look all around, and never really could catch anyone's eye. You know how, when you go to a restaurant with talented staff (any type of restaurant, any age of staff), they know to look at the can catch someone's eye as they walk by, even if you're not in their station? Yeah? Well, not so much these days, I'm finding.

    So, I ordered my Huevos Rancheros, and instead of coming in one big melty-looking mess of goodness, the eggs were on one side of the plate, and there were what tasted like lukewarm canned refried beans on the other side of the plate, and a couple of tough tortillas on the side. Sigh. I couldn't really catch anyone's eye, so I ate it. And the eggs still tasted good. But the experience put me off. I asked the waiter, when he finally came with more coffee for Ted, when they had changed the Huevos. He said, "I don't know, I've only been here for 3 days." And then he went away. I looked around the restaurant, and the whole staff looked to be under the age of 25, not really interested in being there, not really looking to see if anyone needed anything, and I kind of gave up. I pretty much decided I wasn't going to find anyone there, besides myself and perhaps my lovely dining companions, who gave a crap about the fact that I didn't like the new way they're preparing the Huevos. Is that high maintenance, to want to tell someone when you like or don't like something? Seems like the owner might be interested in that kind of information.

    Just an aside, here, to let you know that I haven't ALWAYS been a curmudgeon. There are times when I've gone places with a young staff, and that young staff is knowledgeable, interested in providing good service, and dedicated to doing their job well. It just seems like it's becoming more and more rare, and more and more often in my service industry transactions, I feel like I'm at the Home Depot, TRYING to find someone who either knows something, is willing to find out something for me, or at least is willing to PRETEND to give a shit.

    The upside of all of this? I've learned to make my own Huevos Rancheros. I buy some good salsa from the refrigerated section at the store. I heat a bit in a frying pan. I crack my egg into it. I let it simmer. I pour a little bit of salsa over the top of the egg (I don't like sunny side up eggs laying there, just looking at me...I'm like Frances that way). I top it with a bit of Mexican cheese, let it get melty, and eat it with some tortilla chips, kind of like egg nachos. Mmmmm. When I told Cherry my tale, she said, "And at least if you change the way you make them, you'll know why." :) Exactly.