Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dr. 007

We sat down the other night and watched the first episode of Grey's Anatomy. I've heard such great things about this show, so I've been looking forward to watching it. After seeing the first episode, I have two things to say:

1. I hope that the tendency of going into heavy music decreases. I mean, I like a good pop song to tell me what I should be feeling and that this is a hip, edgy place to be as much as the next person, but they cut away to trendy music at least 4 times, maybe more. I do understand that it is the RARE series where the pilot episode is it's best, so I'm guessing it will get a lot better. It was pretty good right off the back though, so I have high hopes. (High apple pie in the sky hopes...)

2. When the resident (it's only the first episode...I only know him as Dr. 007, but that's him in the picture, above) had to go and tell the family that the patient had died during his bypass surgery when he had promised the wife that he would be ok...part of me remembered last year when my mom had her hysterectomy. I was waiting in the waiting room (where else) with my grandmother, my uncle, Ted, and Maya, and the surgeon came out to tell us that everything was ok. I started to lose it. I was SO scared that she was going to die on the table, or have a heart attack or a stroke, and all of that fear bubbled to the surface as profound relief, and I started to cry. (background...Ted's mom had already suffered 2 heart attacks at this point, his father had died from stroke, and a dear friend had very recently gone through her father having one or the other on the table during back surgery, which left him paralyzed for the rest of his fear was very real and justified...thankfully, not actualized.) Neither my grandmother nor my uncle reached out to comfort me, perhaps because they were just too relieved and emotional themselves and couldn't manage to help me out, or whatever. Ted and Maya were elsewhere at the moment. The doctor reached over and gave me a very comforting hug, and she made me feel SO much better. Like I wasn't alone, and like she cared, and was glad that my mom was O.K., too. I have already forgotten her name, but I'll never forget her 'bedside manner' with me, out in the waiting room, terrified of losing my Mom.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Proof of the Apocolypse:

Noam Chomsky talking at West Point on CSPAN2. Never thought I would see that. Yet there it was on Monday night TV. (It was on Book TV, which won't come up right now, so I can't find out if there's a link to the actual show or not. Like you'd want to watch it, I know. It was classic Chomsky, though, which is always interesting.)

Proof I married well:
When the cadet goes up and gives Chomsky a gift at the end of his talk, Ted says, "What if it's the user manuel to his car?" HA!

Tuesday Cooking

OK, that's kind of a lie, since we cooked this on Sunday, but since I put Sunday Yoga Thoughts on things that occurred to me on Thursday, what the hell.

On Friday, I went to lunch with Ted's Auntie Sondra, and we had Indian buffet. I'm not a huge fan of the buffet, but this one was pretty good. We went to Saroor, if you're ever in Walnut Creek. One of the items on the buffet, which I had never tried before, was Aloo Gobi. Boy, it was yummy.

So, on Sunday, when Ted woke up and declared that we were having curry for dinner that night, I raised my hands in thanks to the Lord. Hooray! Curry! So, I decided I would make curried pumpkin and aloo gobi as side dishes. I searched the internet for recipes, and decided upon this one, which I found here:
Aloo Gobi

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and cut into small pieces
Large bunch of fresh coriander, separated into stalks and leaves and roughly chopped
Small green chilies, chopped into small pieces (or one teaspoon chili powder)
1 large cauliflower, leaves removed and cut evenly into eighths
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into even pieces
1 LARGE 28oz can of diced tomatoes with juice (or two regular cans)
Fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Fresh garlic, chopped
1 Teaspoon Cumin seeds
2 Teaspoons Turmeric
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Garam Masala

Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan.

Add the chopped onion and one tablespoon of cumin seeds to the oil.

Stir together and cook until onions become creamy, golden, and translucent.

Add chopped coriander stalks, two teaspoons of turmeric, and one teaspoon of salt.

Add chopped chillis (according to taste)

Stir tomatoes into onion mixture.

Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly.

Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce plus a few tablespoons of water (ensuring that the mixture doesn't stick to the saucepan).

Ensure that the potatoes and cauliflower are coated with the curry sauce.

Cover and allow to simmer for twenty minutes (or until potatoes are cooked).

Add two teaspoons of Garam Masala and stir.

Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves on top of the curry.

Turn off the heat, cover, and leave for as long as possible before serving.
The only problem ws that it says garlic and ginger, but it doesn't really say how much of either. So I used 2 cloves of garlic, and maybe 2 inches of ginger root. For the pepper, I used 1/2 of a jalapeno, no seeds. Maya and her friend would be eating too, so I didn't want it TOO hot. It was very yummy.

Our kitchen is very small, so if you're going to cook like this, you have to cook in shifts. Ted had to work for a couple of hours on Sunday, so I made the pumpkin and aloo gobi while he was at work, and he came home and made curried lamb, rice, and roti. Mmmm. Roti. Anyway, when we saw how much food we had, we quickly called Cherry and Eric to come join us for dinner. Eric can usually be counted on to eat a lot of food, and they both really like Indian, so they were a natural choice. Cherry brought lovely homemade sauces to pour over ice cream, and some ice cream, and we feasted. What a lovely evening it was. :)

Speaking of cooking, Maya made a beautiful coconut pie on Saturday for her cousin's birthday party. It turned out wonderfully, and everyone scarfed it down. I was proud of her, because I was only there for guidance, she did almost all of it herself. I can tell she will be a great cook by the time she grows up.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Time for the Ego

In a complete 180 from yesterday's post, today I'm thinking of ways to improve myself, in very superficial ways. So, first, I want to stop eating like a wolf. I used to eat very slowly, chewing my food complelety before swallowing. If I didn't chew all of the way, it would kind of make me sick. Then I had a child. And every time you want to eat, they need something. And she had colic, so we had to take turns eating while the other one held a screaming baby. After months of colic and years of a child needing you 24 hours a day, I turned into a wolfer. I'm always the first one finished with my food. It's kind of gross. Sometimes I wonder if it makes people sick to eat with me. You know, except for Ted, who eats even faster than I do. Until a few weeks ago, when he had food poisoning, and he suddenly got very sensative about his tummy, and started eating very slowly...which kind of pointed out to me just HOW fast I was wolfing my food down. So, change number 1, stop being such a piggy wolf when I eat.

Change number 2 has to do with my clothes. I've been watching a lot of What Not to Wear lately, and I have the book now, and that got me thinking, "What would Clinton and Stacy say about my wardrobe?" The answer? 3 or 4 things you actually wear, and a closet full of clothes that are older than your child. Not appropriate for your current job, some of them too young for me, lots of them completely out of style. So, I'm going to brutally go through my closet, throw out (donate) everything that I don't wear, and start my own personal What Not To Wear. I don't have $5,000 to spend on clothes, but I can go slowly. Go for quality. Go for things that fit my body now, not my body 10 - 15 years ago. Things that are flattering and practical and that I actually like. If I take it slowly, I won't rack up a credit card bill or anything horrid like that. So I'm going to. Of course, I won't have Stacy there to feel me up like she does on TV, but I think I'll get by anyway. ;)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What's W doing at Mom 101's Blog?

Looks like he took over for a few minutes and did a meme. Mom 101, I hope they didn't ship you off to Gitmo while he worked on this! 'Cause you know, it probably took him quite awhile!

Sunday Yoga Thoughts...

Last week when I was in yoga class, my teacher was talking about Atama and Ego, and how Ego can get in the way of a yoga practice, and in the way of a fulfilling life. We all pretty much know what Ego is, and how the concern with how we are perceived, with maintaining a certain 'status' in life, all of that, can get in the way of feeling at peace with one's self. But what is Atama? Simply stated, Atama is the inner self, the real you. So in your practice of yoga, or any meditative practice (I know one person who meditates via Karate, and one via playing drums), your goal is to discover your inner self, your 'real you'. This got me to thinking, what if I discover the inner me, and I don't like what I find? Do we all have this fear, that there are aspects of ourselves that we won't like, once we delve deeply? Is it that we have an addiction that we mask, or a hunger for acceptance that won't let us move forward? I know that one place where my ego gets in my way is with work. I like my job ok, and I'm fairly good at it, but it's not really fulfilling. However, I don't feel driven to find something else, and perhaps part of that is that I don't really want to be the 'go getter', out there taking the world by storm. And my ego tells me that successful people are driven, know what they want and go after it. What if what I want is to be happy at home, with my family, and to write in my blog every day. What if I'm not driven to be working on interesting, exciting projects all of the time, like so many people whose drive I admire. What if what I need is to find something more low key, not so high powered and stressful. Is that OK? I'm going to have to do some more research on the Atama (mine that is), and see what's in there, and what it has to say about all of this.

How about you? What do you fear that you'll find if you get to know yourself better?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Want to Make Me Cry?

I was reminded recently of the all time number one tear jerker movie in my life...The Miracle Worker. (I do remember SOBBING uncontrollably to Amistad, but somehow the movie didn't STICK with me the same way...Spielberg is too manipulative, so he can get the tears flowing, but it's not least, not for me.) ANYWAY...I have two stories of crying to this film. The first time I sobbed at The Miracle Worker, I was living in San Francisco, and home alone in the afternoon. I had a friend who was attending USF, which was right down the street from my lovely flat, and she had to stop by and do some paperwork. Her husband was with her, and didn't want to go to the purgatory of the admin office, so he came over to my house to shoot the breeze with me while he waited. I didn't know he was coming. It was the scene where she has her hands under the water spigot, and she GETS IT. OH.MY.GOD. So here I am, sobbing like a freak, (Honestly, I'm getting verclempt right now as I type), and he rings the doorbell. So I answer the door, and he is freaked out, wondering what could possibly be wrong that I'm crying so hard. I try to explain it to him (He is from Pakistan, and somehow I don't think Helen Keller is a big part of their culture or folklore), and I'm gasping, and blurting out, "She's blind...and deaf...and she doesn't understand WORDS...and she's so ALONE...and it's so DARK...and now...she...GETS IT...) and he just sat there, thinking, I'm sure, that I was a complete freak. And who knows, maybe I was.

Cut to a few years ago, something horrible was going on in the world. I don't remember what anymore. I don't think it was September 11, but maybe it was, or maybe some kid had been kidnapped somewhere, or something to do with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I don't know, (UPDATE: It was the pictures from Abu Grahib, which pretty much took my naive ideas of American morals and righteousness (which weren't THAT strong to begin with...I was an International Relations major at SF State, which is pretty Left Wing) and threw them down the toilet with a stick of dynamite and blew the whole thing through the roof. I was so down, so depressed, really close to tears like I hadn't been since Sept. 11) and I really needed something to cheer me up. So, on my lunch hour, I walked over to our local library to pick up a Shirley Temple movie, thinking it would be a fun, cheerful distraction, and Maya would love it too. Well, they didn't have any, but they had The Miracle Worker. So I got it. Brought it home that day, and we watched it. Maya HATED it. She was SO UPSET at Annie shoving spoon after spoon into Helen's hand like that, could NOT understand WHY Annie was being so mean to her, that she went up to her room crying, and slammed the door. I did manage to coax her out in time for the 'wa-wa' scene, and she relented in her hatred a bit, but boy, she was PISSED. I cried and cried that time as well, and you know what? Maybe the tears were cathartic enough, because I felt so much better after. Whew.

Seems like maybe Maya will be this way when she's older...because she got so upset, that makes me wonder if she'll be as emotional as me.

I get it from my mom. She can't listen to a recording of the Hindenberg tragedy without crying...which I thought was sappy and funny when I was a teenager and they were playing it on the car radio for some reason, and she was trying to explain it to me, much like me trying to explain Hellen Keller to Waqaar. Now that I'm an adult, I can't listen to it without crying, either. Sigh. I have not yet gotten QUITE as mushy as my mom...her all time best was crying before the opening credits of "The Fox and the Hound". That's sappy.

p.s. to any east coast readers...can you look at a WaWa store without thinking of Helen Keller? We lived in Philly for two years, and I could never say, "I'm going to the WaWa, you need anything?" without a small part of me thinking of Helen. It didn't make me cry, though. I'm not THAT insane.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Why I Should Not Be Allowed To Work From Home

Because I was sitting here, peacefully trying to figure out how to write up specs for EFT transfers for U.S. Savings Bonds via our Software Interface Payroll Software, and a knock came on the door....and this book was sitting there, smiling up at me, wanting me to play. Really, I don't even UNDERSTAND the issues behind the specs I'm supposed to be writing, so how am I supposed to be concentrating on that when Clinton and Stacy are sitting there, trying to show me how to look my best? Really, people, come on. I'm only human.

Good Food/Bad Food

The other day when I went to give blood, it turned out to be a volunteer/community type faire at an office building near my house. So in addition to the Red Cross, there were several other worthy organizations there, and they were also giving out little gift cards to thank you for coming, either to Starbucks or to Jamba Juice. Since I don't drink coffee, I chose the Jamba Juice. The woman said, "Good for you!"

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with my friend at a buffet (I don't like buffets, but I like my friend...), and the options for dessert were lime jello or chocolate cake. I chose the jello, and she said, "Good for you! You're so disciplined."

I have to admit, the idea that I am somehow a better person because I like jello more than cake is confusing to me. Or that I would rather have a smoothie than a latte'. I know that these people were not complimenting me on my taste, actually. They were complimenting me on my discipline, my choices, and how 'healthy' they are. Because I am obviously depriving myself of something I would rather have, is how they see it.

But I don't quite get it. I do remember when my mom was dieting, that she would use the word 'virtuous' for when she had eaten something healthy, and that she would feel guilty for eating something unhealthy, or too much of really anything, and I think that's part of the trap of dieting, a trap of our society. Because really, food isn't 'good' or 'bad', it's just food. It doesn't have a conscience, and doesn't have morality. It just sits there, and you eat it or you don't. Of course I understand that there are foods that are better for you than others...blueberries, for example, are healthier for you than ice cream. But are you a better person for eating blueberries than if you choose ice cream? NO. Will you be healthier if you eat more blueberries than ice cream? Possibly. But if we can take some of the morality and guilt out of food, and just eat what we want, and try to eat more of the healthy stuff and less of the unhealthy stuff, I think we'll all be a lot better off. Now please excuse me, there are some cheetos in the kitchen calling me.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Another Meme? Kill me NOW.

OK, I've done one meme today, and I said I wasn't going to do any more, but I lied. So here we are, two meme Thursday. I think I'm going to get cut off if I try to meme more, so don't worry, this is it for awhile. I hope. I don't even know why I like doing these things, but I do. So, here's a meme that I grabbed from Autumn's Mom. Here goes!

I AM: Looking forward to Autumn's Mom's birthday party, and the Margaritas that will be involved!

I WANT: $5,000 to buy myself new clothes, like on What Not To Wear. But I don't want to be humiliated on TV to get it.

I WISH: I had enough money to help my family and friends, so they wouldn't need to worry.

I HATE: My stupid selfish cousin, who would NOT be getting any of my non-existant money. I love her in that reluctant way that you are supposed to love anyone who is family, but that's it. And it's a stretch to manage even that.

I MISS: My family and some of my best friends, who lived too damned far away.

I FEAR: That soon it will be too late and global warming will make the world a really f**cked up place to be, and that I will at that point regret bringing my child into such a place. The thought of regretting her is too much to bear.

I HEAR: Birds singing outside my window. I'm not listening to music right now.

I WONDER: If idiot voters will elect another evil moron President when we're finally done with this one?

I REGRET: Wasting time on regret. Mostly it's best to learn from your mistakes, and move on.

I AM NOT: Fond of Brussels sprouts. They suck. Those of you that like them can have my share, and give me your guacamole.

I DANCE: At parties, if I can.

I SING: Poorly. Let's just get it out there...I suck.

I CRY: At sad movies. Sometimes sad books or tv shows. Or happy ones, if we're being honest here.

I AM NOT ALWAYS: In the mood to cook, or to watch TV, or to help my daughter with her homework.

I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: Good food. I like to cook. :) Except when I'm not in the mood...but I usually am.

I WRITE: Boring tax type stuff for work. Fun stuff for my blog. LOVE the blog. Best thing ever.

I CONFUSE: My ideas of the way the world should be with reality. It's always jarring when I realize I'm wrong.

I NEED: A nap...almost always. I get plenty of sleep at night, I just love naps.

I SHOULD: Floss my teeth every day, stretch my back better, and practice more yoga.

I START: Books, but don't always finish them. I feel guilty when I do this. But hey, if I can't get into the book, it's time to move on.

I FINISH: Books, if they're good. :) My diet coke, before I even wake up the kid. Gross, I know. But I don't drink coffee, and I need my caffeine.

I HAVE: A very easy kid. I mean it...she is healthy, smart, loving, kind, everything you could want. So many parents have children (wonderful kids, don't get me wrong) with health issues, or reading issues, or behavioral issues, that I wonder how we got so lucky with her. I'm thankful, believe me.

Post 200? I think so...

OK, another Meme. Got this one from Wendy. I've gotta cut back on these things, and I swear I will. I'll also stop drinking wine on school nights, staying up too late reading, watching crap TV, and letting the clothes-to-be-ironed pile up to the rafters. Yeah, right.

The rules are:
List three CDs, books, movies, and people you would take if you were stranded on a deserted island. For the people, you cannot choose your spouse or relatives.

Californication, by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Way too much fun.

The White Album, by the Beatles. Wendy chose this one, too, so we'd be OK if for some reason we got stuck together.

Scott Hamilton Quintest, The Second Set. It's the first Jazz album I ever heard, and I love it.

Gone With The Wind - by Margaret Mitchell. I know, it's racist and lame, but I love it. And it's really long, so I could read it over and over again. Probably an important factor.

The Mists of Avalon - by Marian Zimmer Bradley. It's also really long, which is good when you're stuck on a desert island. Very good and interesting, too.

East of Eden - by John Seteinbeck. I haven't actually read this one yet, but I've heard so much about it, and it would be nice to have something to read on the island that I haven't read before. At least the first time. ;) Plus, you know, it's really long.

Out of Africa - Can't really get tired of this movie, plus it has Mozart's clarinet concerto, which is a way of sneaking in some of my favorite music without bringing the CD.

It's a Wonderful Life - I never seem to get sick of this one, either. Sappy and sentamental, yes, but that's me anyway, and who needs snarky when you're already trapped on a dang island?

Romeo and Juliet - Probably the Zeffarelli version, but honestly, I liked the one with Leo and Claire too. It's just such a compelling, heartbreaking story, that it translates well into any era.

My friend Rosemary. She lives far away, on the east coast, and she's the only person I know that I could deal with for ever. You know, besides family and stuff.

Lenny Kravitz. He's hot AND he can sing, so yet again, I'm sneaking in more music. And he's slutty, so he wouldn't mind sharing between Rosemary and myself. He could comfort us after we watch Romeo and Juliet.

Thomas Jefferson. He would be really interesting to talk to, and would probably give us lots of things to think about. He might be kind of racist and bossy with Lenny, but we'd straighten him out.

This was a harder meme than I first thought...I had to put a lot of thought into it. can I live with only 3 books? That's crazy. Hopefully the other people on the island brought books, movies, and CDs too. That would help. ;) And maybe they brought more people...and they brought all those things too...and so on, and so on, and so on....cue Wella commercial from the 70s here...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I Saved a Life Today

Maybe most of you wouldn't be tooting your own horn about it, but I'm going to, for two reasons. The first is, I want to encourage those of you who CAN donate blood, but don't, to get out there and do it. Honestly, it's not often that we can say we saved someone's life, that someone may have died on the operating table if it weren't for us and the time we took out of our life to get stuck in the arm with a needle. And, I only recently learned, your blood is divided up into different componants, so it goes to several people who desperately need it. It's a great way to feel really good about yourself. Go for it.

The second reason I'm tooting my own horn here, is that I want extra credit for giving blood, given as how I HATE doing it. It makes me sick. And this time HURT. Usually, it doesn't, but I don't know if it's me or the tech who draws the blood, because every once in awhile, the whole thing sucks. That was today. And after I had my snack at the end, I got up to walk away, and I had to sit right down again...I almost fainted. Blech. Most of the time, my issue is the needle. I HATE those big needles poking me in the arm. I had natural childbirth, and it was mostly because I took one look at that needle in the pre-birthing classes we took, and it scared the shit out of me. I can't watch when they draw the blood stomach goes all flip-floppy on me, and once I went all the way and passed out after donating. It's the grossest thing ever to see your blood in that little bag...ugh. But the feeling after, knowing how much you've helped someone in their hour of need? Priceless.

Plus, they give you cookies. ;)

I've got a bad feeling about this...

I'm at the point in my book where they are in the trial, and the woman has taken the stand against her supposed attacker...and as I was drifting off to sleep last night, the thought occurred to me...I'll bet he's innocent...I'll bet they're going to find him innocent...and he'll get strung up just the same. Damn it. I may be wrong, and I hope I am, but the whole thing about killing a mockingbird being a sin, because they're innocent? I think I just got it.

Don't tell me if I'm right or wrong. And I gotta say, this book is WAY more interesting than American Idol. ;)

Best quote so far:
"I had received the impression that Fine Folks were people who did the best they could with the sense they had."

First runner up, from the witness stand:
"Are you the father of Mayella Ewell?"
"Well, if I ain't I can't do nothing about it now, her ma's dead."

Update: Read some while giving blood. I was wrong. Stupid jury. I don't know what I was thinking, that he would get off (at least legally, I still think he'll be dead by the end of the book), just because everyone there knew he didn't committ the crime. Stupid racist country. Ugh.

Last Update: I finished the book last night while taping Lost (it's just too late for our early to rise habits around here, so we tape it)...dang it all. But wow, REALLY good book. So many people told me to see the movie, so it's now on the top of our Netflix list, and will come very soon. :) Thanks for the suggestions! I just got the book, "In Cold Blood" too. Since the movie "Capote" was what got me started reading this book, I figure I should read that next. :)

Yeah, that will work....

Well, Wisconsin is pretty and green, I've heard they have some mighty nice cheese, and you can probably find a condo there for under 500K, but this is crazy. For those of you (and you know who you are!) getting your news from this site, the governor of Wisconsin has decided that it should be LAW that sex ed teachers need to emphasize abstinence over all other forms of birth control.
...teachers must emphasize that refraining from sex before marriage is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. A spokesman for the governor, a Democrat, said most Wisconsin school districts already take that approach.

I wonder if the governor knows that refraining from sex AFTER marriage also works pretty well? Wonder if his wife knows this as well? I hope he's not getting any, that's all I have to say.

Stupid people and their ineffective abstinence education....grrr.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What's Wrong With These Glasses?

If you're saying that there are no frames holding the lenses onto the face, you're correct...almost. They are attached through the bridge of her pierce the bridge of your nose and put a tiny wire through and that holds them. I can't imagine much more disgusting than that. If you want to read more about this horrid (wonderful?) idea, click here. (The part of me that remembers people complaining about the pain of glasses and earrings in 30 below weather wonders what a piercing right there would feel like, too...ugh.)

I've thought about getting the surgery on my eyes, so I won't need my contacts anymore...I get so tired of them. Talked to my eye doctor about it this year, and she said I'm a perfect candidate. Then I found out that if I did get the surgery, I would then need reading glasses whenever I'm in front of the computer. Well, I'm in front of the computer a LOT, so I'm not ready to spend that kind of money (and go through the risk) to end up wearing glasses so much of the time. Blah.

Places I've "Visited"

Create your own personalized map of the USA
I got this one from Ally Bean...she often has fun things like this on her site!

I confess...I only drove through the little corner of Arizona between Las Vegas and southern Utah...I've only been in the airport in St. Louis...I've only driven through a lot of these states on Interstate 80 between CA and PA, and Maryland and Virginia were just about getting to and around DC. But LOOKS like I've been quite a few places, doesn't it?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Much More Disturbing....

My mother-in-law and I went to see a movie this weekend, Water, that was the saddest movie I have ever seen. I came home wanting to see something cheerful and uplifting, like maybe, Romeo and Juliet. Madame Butterfly. You know, comedy.

Water takes place in India in 1938, and is about the 2,000 year old custom of how widows are discarded after their husbands die. The main character is an 8 year old girl, Chuyia, who doesn't even remember getting married. She is brought to an ashram and left there by her father. She is scared and confused, and convinced that her mother will be coming to get her soon. We all know she has been left there to rot, along with the other widows.

The other inhabitants of the ashram vary from about 20-years old or so to maybe 70s or 80s. Most were married at very young ages as well, though their husbands didn't all die when they were children. There is a love story in the film, for the 20ish year old widow, Kalyani (played by Lisa Ray) whom the 'mother superior' type, for want of a better term, whores out to 'clients' for money to pay the rent on the compound in which they all live. Kalyani never even met her husband, and he died when she was 9, and now she lives here and has a life of begging and prostitution to look forward to.

She falls in love with Narayan, (played by John Abraham), a young man that Chuyia befriends, a man who is forward thinking, a follower of Gandhi. He wants to marry Kalyani, and take her away from her life in the ashram.

An interesting thing about the film is the politics involved in the making of it. Because this practice of throwing women away like garbage is still very much a part of the village culture, the fundamentalists in India caused a lot of trouble when this film was being made, and finally, they had to move filming to Sri Lanka.

Lisa Ray and John Abraham are both gorgeous, and they are both big name stars, but the little girl is an unknown. Her dignity, innocence, and poise are devastating.

I can't say I LIKED the's too sad. It broke my heart. But I wouldn't be surprised to see it up for some big awards, because it was very well made, beautifully filmed, directed, and acted. And it got me to thinking of how women are treated in so much of the world. The U.S. has come pretty far, but we also have our fundamentalist cults that marry off children to elder men, and with equally devastating results.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Disturbing Thoughts...

Friday I went into the office to do some work, and I was going through some client files, and I discovered that one of our old, inactive clients was Enron. That got me thinking...I wonder if I would have felt differently about them back in 2001, when I was sweating in the dark, unwilling to turn on the a/c or a light, trying to keep my electric bill under control, worried about rolling power outs, while they were raping California for money, laughing all of the way to the bank. Would I have hated them less if they had been a current client? Somehow I doubt it.

Another disturbing thing I learned is that at some of the middle schools in our area, extra credit for the kids' grades can be purchased by the parents. Say the classroom needs kleenex or papertowels, and little Johhny brings them in. That's 5 points towards his grade, and if you have enough of those paper towels around, that could be the difference between a B and an A. That stinks like last week's poop. No wonder the college kids Ted used to teach had such a sense of entitlement...they're used to having their grades purchased for them by their parents. For a quick example of just how bad things have gotten in academia, click here.

Last disturbing thought of the day...we went to a fundraiser at Maya's school yesterday, and even though I don't believe in spanking and corporal punishment, if she talked to me the way I heard some of those kids talking to their parents, I would feel compelled to slap her to sleep.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Welcome to the Blogosphere!

My darling husband, Ted, started a blog today. I can't wait to see what he'll come up with. :)


Last Friday, I was in a meeting at work, and someone brought ice cream. I was full, having had pizza already, and you all know what else I was full of at that point, so not too much appitite. There were a couple of different kinds of ice cream bars, and what I want to know is, WHY did I want one so badly? There were no nuts involved. No coffee flavored ice cream involved. Just basic vanilla with dark chocolate, vanilla with milk chocolate, or dulce le leche. Nothing I really like that much. And still, I WANTED one. WANTED IT. And my stomach said, uh, no thanks. And my mouth said, uh, I could pass on that. But my brain kept on thinking about it. I resisted, telling myself that I would have what I REALLY wanted when I got home, which was a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. But why? I mean, I could understand if it were this:
(notice the lovely coffee color of the ice cream, the nuts, the chocolate toffee coating....mmmmm....that might be worth a tummy ache...)

At the end of it all, once the ice cream was eaten and gone, I didn't want it anymore, and I was glad I hadn't had any, because I would have felt gross and somewhat sick. And I enjoyed my wine at home.

Guyanese Proverbs...

After yesterday's recipe, I started thinking about the culture of Guyana. I've never been there, and I cannot claim to be any sort of authority on it at all. BUT, I can say that there are some pretty interesting expressions/proverbs. My personal favorite, especially when Ted says it while doing his best Bill Clinton impression (Don't forget the little gesture with your hand, like you're putting your ATM card into the machine), is this one:
"When mattie's house afire, trow watah upon you'un"

Literally translated:
"When your neighbor's house is on fire, throw water upon your own"

I love that in Bill's voice. I think Bill should go down to Guyana for a few months and pick up the dialect, and then take that wisdom and make it part of his own.

Here's more proverbs, if you're interested. Some of them are pretty great.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Recipe Thursday

I've never seen 'recipe Thursday' anywhere before, so I just made it up. I don't want to talk about poop anymore, or God, and I haven't thought of anything else exciting, so I thought I would just give away the store here, and share one of our family's favorite recipes.

This picture is what I got when I googled "Curried Butternut Squash", but it doesn't look exactly like the dish I'm describing. Similar though, and tasty looking.

Ted's parents were born and raised in Guyana, which is in South America. If you don't know much about Guyana, it was a British Colony. After Great Britian abolished slavery, they still needed cheap/free labor to work the rice plantations, so they set about recruiting, tricking, and stealing people from India, and bringing them to Guyana. Thus, the population of Guyana is mostly of African or Indian descent, with some Native Americans thrown in, but really, not many to my understanding. The culture is mixed, African, Carribean, and Indian. So when Ted makes a curry, it is different than you would get at an Indian restaurant, or a Thai restaraunt, or a Carribean restaurant. They're all good, mind you, but different.

One of the side dishes that Ted's mom makes regularly is 'Curried Pumpkin'. It goes FAST. Everyone loves Ma's Pumpkin. So, I decided it might be a good idea to try to learn to make it myself. Like so many folks, my mother-in-law does not really work with a recipe, just throws things in a pot the way she learned, improvising when she wants to, and she's a wonderful cook. Unfortunately, I don't cook well that way. I need to make a recipe several times to get it right, from a recipe, before I feel comfortable branching out.

I asked Ma to teach me to make her curried pumpkin. She made it with me, and I wrote down the ingredients and my best guess as to the amounts of everything required. It hasn't ever turned out quite as good as hers, but it's still pretty yummy.

The first thing to know is that even though it's called "Curried Pumpkin", it's curried butternut squash. So she'll say to cut up the pumpkin, and I'll say, "Like a jack-o-lantern pumpkin?"
"No, that would taste horrid. You use butternut squash." OK. That's the last you'll hear of it being called squash. It's pumpkin. But not.

The second thing to know is that you can buy pre-cut butternut squash sometimes in the grocery store, usually near the bagged salad greens, or frozen puree or diced squash, but these don't seem to work as well. I'm not sure if they're too old or what, but it's just not as tasty as if you do it yourself.

The third thing to know is that you don't want to whip this rather than mashing it...too much air gets in there, and it's more like a mousse. Unless you want a mousse. Then, go for it. I tried it once, and Ted and Maya still liked it, but I thought it ruined the dish.

Lastly, keep the heat low. You don't want to carmelize the squash.

Ma's Curried Pumpkin
1 tblsp (approx) vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, minced
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped fine (this is a pain - I never cut mine as fine as Ma does)
1/8 tsp or less cayenne pepper - remember, you can always add more, but you can't take it out.
1 tblsp regular sugar
1 tsp good curry powder

Heat oil over medium-low heat in a pan. I use a wide bottomed pan, not a very deep one. Add cumin seeds, garlic, and onion. Sautee until onion browns. Don't rush.

Add remaining ingredients, mix well, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until squah is soft. Smash ingredients together with a fork or a potato masher. Simmer until ready to eat. Serve warm.

We like to eat this with rice, Roti (Naan), daal, and curried lamb. If you're a vegetarian, omit the lamb, and serve more of the veggies. Boy, it's yummy. Good luck.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Five Things

I got this one from Hope, who did not tag me, but tagged Gina in the comments to her paper plate post, and I read it and liked it, so here we go:

Five Things

In my fridge:

  1. Leftover ingredients from softshell chicken tacos we had for dinner last night.
  2. Old film for Ted's broken camera. (I used it much more than he did, but since it was a gift from me to him, I will still call it Ted's camera. He prefers the digital, though.)
  3. Berries - Strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
  4. Eggs - with Omega 3 added, since we don't eat a lot of fish or flax around here.
  5. Broccoli
In my car:

  1. 30 used binders from work, which are being donated to Maya's school, and will go there at some point soon.
  2. Altoids - Tangerine flavor.
  3. Water bowl for Genevieve, the dog. For when we walk to school in the morning. We drive to the library, walk one mile to school, give the dog water, walk back to car, more water, come home.
  4. My yoga matt.
  5. Several mixed tapes, which I cannot play because the tape deck is broken.
In my purse:

  1. 2 juicy type lip glosses that I do not use. I don't know why I keep them there. Maya likes them sometimes.
  2. My BART pass.
  3. My beloved wallet. It was a gift from Ted in our dating days, and it's easily the best wallet I've ever had. I would still have trouble coughing up that much money for a wallet for myself, and he got it for me for no reason except that my old one was falling apart and frustrating the crap out of me.
  4. Pictures of Ted and Maya (Inside the wallet)
  5. $5 in currency from Guyana, also a gift from Ted. He went there for 3 weeks right after we started dating, and brought me back $. Probably worth very little.
In my closet:

  1. Our 'wedding album', which STILL consists of original photos, crammed into a Gap bag. Maybe by our 15th anniversary, which is July of 2008, one of us will have rectified this situation. Don't hold your breath.
  2. Hats that I buy but never wear.
  3. Clothes that are MUCH too business-like for my current job, but I keep them because, well, you never know.

    4. The Smokey Bear that Samantha, my childhood dog, chewed up when she was only a puppy, probably 33 years ago now, and I still love and cannot bear to give up. I know, it doesn't even look like a bear, but if you're mean about it, you will hurt my feelings. My darling Grandfather, who is dead, gave it to me, and my beloved dog, who is also dead, is the one who chewed it up. Don't worry, she's not dead BECAUSE of the chewing...though that was touch and go for a bit there...she actually lived to be 16 years old. Comment accordingly.

5. Rarely worn shoes. Fancy and painful.

In my head:

  1. My pet peeve of the week, which is people who spell "Loser" with two "o"s, or "lose" the same way. If he's an asshole, he's a "LOSER", not a "LOOSER", and you don't "LOOSE" your wallet, you "LOSE" it. Whew. I feel better now.
  2. Wondering what we'll do for dinner tonight, but not getting any bright ideas yet.
  3. A list of things I have to do for work today.
  4. A list of things I have to do for Maya's school soon.
  5. Congestion, though the Clariton D I took this morning seems to be helping.

I'm not gonna tag anyone, because I kind of feel like if you want to do these things, you will, and if you don't, you won't. Enjoy!

Grateful Today

This morning I am feeling very grateful. Yesterday, while getting ready to start my day, I received a phone call that my father-in-law was in the hospital. We weren't sure what was wrong with him, but he had gone in because of extreme pain and very high blood pressure. On our way out to the hospital, we found out that he needed surgery right away, to remove his gallbladder. So, there we are. He had his gallbladder removed, which had ALREADY started to turn gangrene (I had no idea it could happen that quickly!). We didn't get to see him after the surgery, because it was later in the day, but we'll go out again today, and we'll see him then. He's doing well, last we heard, and for that, I am VERY grateful.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Anybody left to offend after the poop talk?

I was walking the dog the other day (She's spoiled...she gets two walks a day), and I was listening to my beloved iPod (I'm spoiled, because Ted got me an iPod for no reason except he knew I wanted one), and I was listening to Joan Osborn's Relish. That album always takes me back to 1995, because that's when I first heard it, and I pretty much listened to it every day in my office at work. Ah, the days before I joined the cube dwellers, when I actually had an office...but I digress. So, I was walking along, and One of Us came on...that's the song that made me want to buy the CD. I had heard Spiderweb on the radio a lot, which is a really good song, but somehow not as catchy as One of Us. So I was walking along, remembering life in Philly, my office, that kind of stuff, and I started listening to the words a bit more. The line came up,
What would you ask
If you had just one question?

That got me to thinking...what if I WERE to meet God, and I DID get to ask a question? What would it be? As a life-long athiest, it's a hum-dinger of an issue for me. I mean, here's this ENTITY that I was always taught didn't exist...what am I to do with that? So part of me, the my-life-in-music part, thought of another rock song, Dear God by XTC, and the lyrics that describe why the character in the song cannot believe in God:
I won’t believe in heaven and hell.
No saints, no sinners,
No devil as well.
No pearly gates, no thorny crown.
You’re always letting us humans down.
The wars you bring, the babes you drown.
Those lost at sea and never found,
And it’s the same the whole world ’round.
The hurt I see helps to compound,
That the father, son and holy ghost,
Is just somebody’s unholy hoax,
And if you’re up there you’ll perceive,
That my heart’s here upon my sleeve.
If there’s one thing I don’t believe in...
It's You
Dear God

So, there we are...a very angry man, talking about all of the horrid things that happen on Earth, many in God's name. Those of you with religion have probably found answers in your hearts to questions like this...but I haven't. I cannot balance the idea of a loving God with a God who lets so many wrongs occur on Earth.

So, what would I ask, if I had just one question? Hmmm. I think I would ask a two parter..."Have any of the world's religions gotten it right? And if so, which one(s)." My greatest fear would be that He would answer "Yes" to the first part, and then not answer the second half at all. I mean, if He said, "All paths to Heaven are equal" or something groovy like that, I'd be fine. But if He just stayed silent on the matter? What then?

How about you? What would you ask, if you had 'just one question'?

(Tomorrow, I'll try to offend anyone who's still talking to me by talking about politics! Fun!)

Monday, May 15, 2006

Because I don't know Tech Stuff...

I have this great friend, Janet, who lives in New York. Yes, she's hot, but that's irrelevant. Esp since I'm both married and straight. Anyway, my point is, does anyone know if I can text message to her phone from my computer? Because, we could totally talk a lot more that way...and I miss her. And I know, I'm lame. I own no cell phone, because I hate them. Advice? Help? Anyone? Bueller?

The Blog Post Where I Gross Out ALL of My Readers...

Warning...there will be poop talk. Nothing graphic, but poop nonetheless.
(I usually put a graphic in my posts, but I googled 'poop', 'constipation', and 'gross', and came up with some stuff that you do NOT want to see. You're welcome.)

When you have an infant, or a toddler, a lot of your conversations and thoughts can revolve around the bodily functions...did she eat? Did she poop? She pooped? Yay! Of course, if she pooped on someone else's watch, all the better, because then YOU DON'T HAVE TO CLEAN IT UP. Well, when Maya was 2 1/2, and had started pre-school, she had a teacher named Rekha, who was wonderful and kind and seemed to enjoy the children. When we would come to pick Maya up from school, she would report. "She pooped." This works best if you realize that Rekha was an older Indian woman, with a fairly strong accent. Suddenly, to say, "She pooped", and tilt your head to one side, it's kind of fun.

Then there came the point where life was no longer all about the poop. Not only was she potty-trained, but she no longer needed us to come in and help her wipe her butt on a regular basis. It was good, and all was right with the world. At that point, her poop became her own business, and much more of a 'don't ask, don't tell' issue, and we only needed to know about it if she had diarreah or was constipated.

This last week, however, was all about the poop. Ted had food poisoning. 'Nuff said there, becuase that's HIS LIFE, not mine, so I'm not going to go into detail. I shall instead bore you with the details of MY poop.

Some people are regular...meaning they poop every dang day at the same time, no problem, and if they miss a day, it's a real shocker, call the press, get some Ex-Lax or something. Me? Not so much. Do you remember Billy Crystal's character in The Princess Bride? Miracle Max? Well, he had to try to cure Westley, who was 'Mostly Dead'. Well, that's me. 'Mostly Regular'. Meaning I don't go every day, and I don't worry about it. When I start to worry about it is when I realize that I'm not sure the last time I pooped, and it's starting to get uncomfortable down there in the lower tummy region.

I don't like to treat this constipation with laxatives, if I can help it, and prefer to drink a lot of water, double up on the fruits and veggies, and do some yoga poses that are supposed to help. This time? Nothing worked. On Tuesday, I realized I wasn't sure when the last poop had occurred. On Thursday, I decided to have salad for dinner, rather than the leftover stew we had at home. So I stopped at Safeway on my way home from yoga, and picked up the only pre-made salad they had left in the deli section at 7pm...that was a mistake. It was the most disgusting thing I've attempted to eat in a LONG time. The dressing that came with it was a caesar salad dressing that was SO THICK it was like mayo. (Litehouse have been warned) Way too gross. So I ate as much of that as I could, and decided Chardonnay made a much better meal.

Friday, I kind of lost hope. I was uncomfortable, bloated, grumpy, and grossed out. So I bought some Correctol. I had hoped to do this naturally, but it just wasn't working. End of story? Relief on Saturday afternoon. In my head, I heard Rekha say, "She pooped". And all was right in the world again.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Good Problem to Have

A couple of years ago, I was lamenting the cost of greeting cards, and that I end up paying out too much money around Mother's Day. You see, I don't only buy them for my mom, but for all of the "mother figures" in life, so they kind of add up. Then I stopped in my tracks, because I realized...this is not a bad problem to have. I have so many women in my life that I want to acknowledge as mother-figures, it ends up costing me some money (And I've tried a box of cards to save money, so I know, it doesn't HAVE to be expensive.)

So, for Mother's Day, here are the women to whom I traditionally send cards:

My Mom Of course, she is first. She gave birth to me, she raised me, mostly alone, she has always been the best mom a person could want. I love her very much, and I'm thankful to have her.

My Mother-in-Law She gave birth to Ted. She loves me and cares for me, and she truly understands how difficult it is for a person to live far away from their mother (She lived in a different country than her mother for most of her life). Because my mom is far away (Juneau, about 1,000 miles), my mother-in-law spoils me a bit. :)

My Grandmother She is the best Grandma ever, and I have always held her near and dear to my heart. I used to love writing letters to her, and how she would pick me up after swim practice, and give me pork chops if I wanted them when my mom was vegetarian. I have so many wonderful memories of time spent at her house...I used to spend spring break at her house, even though we lived a block away from her.

My Step-Mom She is an amazing woman as well, very nurturing, giving, and loving. She truly cares for people, and is an inspiration in how to care for loved ones. Her first husband died in Viet Nam, an event which threw her world into a tail spin...kind of like my Grandma, whose first husband died when my mom was only 6. It's a lesson in learning to live, to be able to recover from something as horrible as that. She's also a savvy business woman, and she has a FUN car.

My Grandmother I know, I have two. That's pretty good when you get to be 40, to still have both of your grandmothers around. I did not grow up knowing her, but she has always been kind and loving to me, and I am very thankful to have gotten to know her, and to be able to spend time with her. We have spent many hours in her garden, which she loved SO much...last year she had to leave her home of 50+ years to go to a retirement home, which was hard on her. She's actually doing pretty well, though. She'll be 90 in September.

My Almost Mom When we lived in Alaska, and then again in Stockton, we had a roommate and her daughter, and she was like a mom to me. She cared for us all, and we were a family. She and my mom were best friends for many, many years. She has drifted out of our lives now, but she is always in my heart. She lives far away, in Missouri.

So, if I spend $3 on a card, and I have 6 cards to buy, that means I'm spending quite a bit of money on Mother's Day Cards. One of these years, though, I'll only have 5 cards to buy, and that will feel like a very different, very real type of problem, compared to my current one, a life filled with so much love.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, who have given birth or haven't, who have given love, support, and kindness to your daughters and sons. You are appreciated. You are loved.

Friday, May 12, 2006

As Promised...

Here are some pictures of Maya and the ducklings. We live too far from her school to walk the whole way, but we park at a library about a mile from the school and walk. We bring the dog, so she gets her exercise in as well. One stretch of the walk is on a bike trail, and there is a little canal running through it. There are often ducks in the canal, and we've been waiting for ducklings since September. Well, we saw them a few weeks ago, but only this week did we remember to bring some bread to feed them. And today I actually remembered the camera. Of course, the batteries in the flipping thing were going out, so I barely eeked out any pics, and none that show Maya's face. Maybe we'll try again on Monday. Here's what we got, anyway.

Nothing to See Here, Folks...Move Along....

Friday morning, did some work on a company newsletter already, getting ready to wake Maya up for school. I have nothing for you, my friends, though I'm hoping for some cute pics of Maya feeding ducklings on the way to school today...we'll see if it happens.

Oh, I have a friend who JUST started a blog a few days ago. He wants to be a writer, maybe, and is thinking this is a good way to write a bit every day. So far, he writes about important issues like Napping. Since I'm big on the napping thing, I thought I'd give him a shout out. Go Ramzi!

Ted is thinking of starting a blog. :) Go Ted! I'll keep you all updated on that one.

Wendy didn't do her LOST recap this week. :( Too busy with "kids" and things like that. And maybe other TV shows...hmmm... I would try, but I'm not up to her excellent mind wanders around too much, and it all comes out as very non-linear. What I will say is that Michael is obviously doing whatever he has to do to keep Walt alive, and I would do exactly the same thing if it were Maya. Next. The new bunker thingie with the cameras? Very groovy. Also groovy are the cheesy training films. And Ted and I got into a discussion about HIM, who they keep talking about, and does he have the power to bring them all here and so on. I say no. I say, it's a HIGHER POWER, like maybe God or something mystical like that, that makes a tiny plane from Nigeria fly ALL OF THE WAY TO THE PACIFIC OCEAN (we assume they're in the Pacific...who knows, really) and land on the same island where Echo then shows up later. I think the leader guy, HIM, is just a mean tyrant, and they're all afraid of him because he likes to torture people.

We also wondered...they all talk about how the Others love them some kids, but is it true? Are the kids really alive and OK? Can they ever show Walt again, since the actor has probably gone through a huge growth spurt and doesn't even look the same anymore? Couldn't that be the result of some evil experiment they've done on him?

I also think it would be funny if what they find next week is Waikiki, in full tourist season. HA!

Too bad about Ana Lucia and Libby. That's what you get for drunk driving. They can deny it all they want...I think they went down for partying too hard. ;)

And Locke getting Echo's dream? WTF? Loved it. LOVED.IT.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Is it a Thursday 13? Or a HNT? You be the judge.

Guess what? It's 87 degrees here (or was last night at 6:00), and our pool is finally open! I knew there had to be a benefit to this condo livin'!

So, in honor of the pool being open, and how happy that makes us all, I'll do two posts in one day...I could play it safe and save the movie post until Friday, but I'm throwing caution to the wind! Here is my Thursday 13...13 things I'm liking right now...

1. That the pool is open! YIPPPEEE!
2. That I got a pedicure, and you get to see it. (That's my HNT, if you hadn't guessed) Try not to be blinded by the bleach whiteness of my winter skin...and please notice the pretty new pool furniture the association bought...nice. :)

3. That Ted's fever seems to have broken and he's feeling better.
4. Working from home, because if I want to go swimming on my lunch hour, I can. I haven't put this one to the test yet, but it could happen. Nice.
5. The book I'm reading, "To Kill a Mockingbird", though I only seem to get a few pages in at a time.
6. Walking Genevieve to Maya's school every morning, and the little ducklings that we get to see on the way. VERY cute.
7. Bbq for dinner, because you know, that means summer.
8. When summer is here, we will have heirloom tomatoes, and even though that won't be for awhile, I'm liking it already. Just THINKING about it makes me happy.
9. Tonight is yoga night. YAY! Best night of sleep the whole dang week.
10. New LOST on tv last night, instead of a stupid recap episode or a repeat or some other show entirely in that time slot.
11. Mother's Day is on Sunday. Maya usually makes me breakfast. Nice.
12. Bill paying time. Why would anyone LIKE paying bills, you may rightfully ask. Well, back in my misspent youth, there were times when I couldn't afford to pay all of my bills, and my roommate and I would be afraid to answer the phone, because it might be a credit card company or something horrid like that. I'm happy to be able to pay them.
13. Almost no homework for Maya this whole week (so far), which has enabled us to relax and swim and fun stuff like that.

So there you are, HNT AND a Thursday 13. We aim to please.

The Good Girl

Did anyone see The Good Girl back in 2002? I did, and I really liked it. Didn't have a blog then, so I'm writing about it now. :)

Ted was laid up the other night with food poisoning, which he suspects came from a veggie bagel at a deli with questionable cleanliness policies, so he went to bed really early. Like 7ish. Maya went to bed soon after, which pretty much left me to my own devices, which around here mean Rye Krisp, Tillamook Chedder, Chardonnay, and the Remote Control. I flipped around the channels awhile, but seeing as how I can't stand Star Search American Idol, I ended up watching "The Good Girl" on Oxygen. (They have some pretty insulting commercials on that channel, by the way, like how to catch a man by walking your dog...) Watching this film, about a married woman suffering from small-town/Texas-drugstore-employee ennui, who has an affair with a seriously disturbed co-worker, who appropriately enough goes by the name 'Holden', made me (and a few other folks, I'm sure) realize that Jennifer Aniston can act, given the right director. Some of her other movies, I wasn't so sure about.

I won't go any further into the plot of the film, because I want you all to see it, and I don't want to ruin it for you, but since I have 2 thumbs, I'm giving it 2 thumbs up. Warning, it may break your heart.

Also, Jake Gyllenhaal does a pretty good job, too...this is the first movie I remember seeing him in. Hadn't seen Donnie Darko yet at that point.

Also Also, Tim Blake Nelson, who played Delmar in O Brother, Where Art Thou, does a very good job of being a bumbling yet creepy creepy guy. Blech.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The "F" Word....

Warning...this post contains SWEARING
I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, from the age of 4 until I was 9. It was the early 70's, and it was much more a frontier society than we have down in the lower 48. I haven't been back since, so I can't speak to the modern sensibilities, but I digress.

In Fairbanks, at that time, everyone swore. I mean, EVERYONE. At one point, we lived next door to a church, and it wasn't unusual to hear people come out and say, "Jesus Christ, it's 45 Mother-Fucking Degrees Below Zero out here!" Needless to say, my brother and I grew up with what is politely known as 'potty mouths'. This was a problem when we moved to Stockton, CA, in 1975....people in CA simply did not swear with the same degree of abandon as Alaskans least not the 10 year olds.

So, one day, a boy at school was pestering the heck out of my brother, and my brother said something akin to, "Leave me alone, Fucker". The boy said, "Uuuummmmmm, YOU SAID THE 'F' WORD!!!", to which my honestly confused brother replied, "What the Fuck's the 'F' word?"

The principal soon found out about this, and had to make a call to my mother at her office.

Principal: "Mrs. Ward? This is Principal X at JFK Elementary. We have to talk."
Mom: "What seems to be the problem, Principal X?"
Principal: "Well, today on the playground, Richard said the 'F' word."
Mom, honestly confused: "What the Fuck's the 'F' word?"

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What's Wrong with America?

If we were to take a poll today, my 4 loyal readers, and ask people, "What is the greatest challenge facing the United States today?", what do you think the answer would be? Would it be terrorism? The war in Iraq? The ignored war in Afghanistan? The 'homosexual agenda'? Godlessness? Racism so deeply ingrained, we may never be free from its ugly grasp? Maybe infrastructure, or how Americans are working harder than ever and losing ground in so many areas? I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and say, Poverty. Poverty is the root of SO many problems in our country, that if we, the richest country in the world, could solve that, we would indeed be the greatest country in the world. LBJ famously declared a 'War On Poverty' back in the '60s, but I think we're losing that war (among others...).

What got me started thinking about poverty is how almost every day I read some headline like, U.S. Newborn Survival Rate Ranks Low, or Unplanned Pregnancy Rate Rises Among Poor, and my thought is, this is ridiculous. How is it possible that we, the RICHEST NATION ON EARTH do not CARE about our own population enough to ensure that every pregnant woman gets the health care that she needs? How is it that we talk about wanting to prevent abortion, but poor women do not have access to the birth control that they need? This is insane. Add to that the stories of a family member who has needed surgery for-fucking-EVER, and cannot get it, because she's not "dying" for lack of it.... Education opportunities among the poor are slim. Gas prices hit the poor much more harshly than the rest of us, we who take a deep breath and maybe don't go out to dinner quite as often. It's enough to drive a person crazy. When did we become so callous? So absorbed in our own petty desires that we allowed this to happen? I'm not personally saying that we all are more interested in new shoes than helping a brother out, or that we're all rich and therefore to blame...but we seriously need to rethink the direction our country is headin', you know? We have elections coming up, and we need to think about how to solve these problems, and try to figure out if there is ANYONE out there, running for office, who is dedicated to the issue.

Will our taxes go up in order to solve the problem of poverty. Almost guaranteed. Should we be willing to pay higher taxes if the problem were effectively, TRULY addressed, not ignored and pushed aside. Surely, the answer has to be yes. And, I believe that the most boot-strapping among us are willing to help...the problem is that we so often feel like our taxes go up, but no one benefits. Except the rich, the big corporations, and the people that run them. I don't want to contribute to THAT welfare fund. But really, there has to be a way to solve this issue. And the first step is to get our politicians to at least DISCUSS it, to acknowledge that this is an issue, of far, far greater import than whether gays can marry or if we say "under God" when we pledge allegiance to our flag.

Monday, May 08, 2006

What Kind of Mom Am I?

I read on Cape Buffalo about an idea for a Mother's Day Collaboration, and I thought, I guess I could chip in on that. I don't want to write about my mom, because I just did on her birthday, and I've got another post in mind for Mother's Day itself, so for here and now, I'll write about my goals as a mother...the kind of mom I would like to be.

I want to be the kind of mom who supports her child no matter what. I want Maya to never doubt for a second that I believe in her, that I love her unconditionally, and that she will always be my baby.

I want to be the kind of mom who is willing to let her take chances...I want her to know that she is strong and capable, and that failure is always an option. You don't get anywhere without trying, without taking chances, and I will always be there, rooting her on.

I want to be the kind of mom who listens...terrible things will happen in her life, because they happen in everyone's life, and I want her to know that no matter how horrible these things are, she can come and talk to me about it. Not only am I willing to listen, I WANT to hear about it. I want to hear about her hopes and dreams, her fears and conquests, her hurts and triumphs. If someone hurts her, I want her to feel safe telling me, that I can stand it. That I want to help her through this life we are living.

I want to be the kind of mom who models a good life. I have already started by choosing such a wonderful man to be my husband. I hope she finds one just as wonderful. I hope that if she makes a mistake and picks a serious dud, she will know that it's ok to move on. I hope that she will be able to determine the difference between a dud and a rough patch with the right person. I want her to take good care of her body, so it will be able to take good care of her. I want her to take care of her mind, for the same reason. I want her to keep her wonderful sense of humor and her ability to find beauty in the world, and in this vein, I will try to live that kind of life myself.

I want to be the kind of mom who supports her decisions regarding school, marriage, and careers. I want to be able to help her with these decisions and with these choices, and I want to be able to butt out when she wants me to. I want to help her care for her children while she goes to work, if she chooses to, or has to. I want to help her care for her children if she chooses to stay home with them. If I am too far away to help, I want to be the kind of mom who is involved in their lives via whatever electronic devices they have by that time... (maybe a transporter?) ;)

I want to be the kind of mom that is healthy and alive until we are both very old, so she won't have to feel lonely without me. I think life is hard without your parents there to guide you, and be a compass for you, and I want to be there for her.

I want to be the kind of mom who is also a wonderful Grandma. But not too soon. ;)

I'm sure I'll think of 10 more things I want to do, and be, as a mom. Mostly, I want to be Maya's mom, and I'm so very thankful that I have gotten the chance.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Commute Time

I had lunch last week with a friend who is looking for work. We were discussing two different jobs she is is close, the next town from where she lives, maybe 15 minutes by car. The other is in San Francisco, which with traffic, is not close. Can be as little as 45 minutes, but with traffic and rush hour and the tunnel and bridge, it's usually MUCH longer. The problem is that the job in San Francisco is the job that she would LOVE. LOVE. It's just exactly what she wants to do, and not a lot of companies are out there hiring for it. The closer job would be 'fine', but not as interesting for her. So there's the rub. She has two sons, 3rd grade and 5th grade, and she's married, and doesn't want to spend 4 hours of her day on the road. Child care places usually close at 6pm, and it's hard to get her by 6 even if you get out of work at 5 in the city. So, what does she do? And, how many of us make these decisions based on commute? It's the whole work/life balance thing again, coming into play. I know that the last time I was looking for work, there were several opportunities in the City that I didn't pursue, because I wanted to be home, closer to Maya and Ted, where I wouldn't spend so much of my life in a car or on BART. Would I be more willing to do this if I didn't have Maya? Probably. If I were single, not in a committed relationship, also no child? Definately. But I would probably hang out with people in the city, or at least I like to think I would, so it wouldn't bother me that I was getting home late. I don't know. What do you think? What's your limit, and what are the factors for you in looking for work?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Friday Night...

Maya was supposed to go camping with her girl scout troop this weekend, leaving Friday and returning on Sunday. They were going to hike and ride horses and cook their own food, sleep in tents in a regional park, that kind of thing. She was looking forward to it. Sort of. Eventually, she decided she didn't want to go. I know several of the other girls were also somewhat apprehensive. So she bailed, and is staying home this weekend. Which is perfectly fine and wonderful, except we had taken the opportunity to plan a grown-up dinner in San Francisco, sort of a celebration of Ted's birthday, sort of a date. But it all turned out fine, becuase Ted's sister stayed with Maya while we went to dinner. Nice.

Ted's friend, Theo, was visiting CA from his home in Hawaii (He has island fever...), so Ted went into the city at noon and they had dim sum at Ton Kiang for lunch. I was working, so after work, I came home and got ready, and then I took BART in to meet him at the restaurant. I had forgotten how interesting BART can be. I had my book and my iPod, so I didn't pay a LOT of attention to those around me,but the guy sitting across from me was making chocolate milk by pouring chocolate protein powder into his Milk Chug. It was somewhat messy, and the powder was on the seat and on his clothes. Now I can see why they don't allow eating on BART. I wonder how they feel about cooking on BART? So I ended up about 2 blocks from the restaurant, at the 24th/Mission station...when I lived in San Francisco, we didn't go into the Mission very often, and it was fun. With shops like "Happy Pork Market" and "Latin Bride", how can you lose? There were TWO Payless Shoe Sources between BART and the restaurant, and no Starbucks. There were people on the street selling tamales and flowers and one shop had a ride in front where you put a quarter in and you get to ride in a little car with Spiderman. I loved it. Boy, the 'burbs sure are boring sometimes. So I arrived at the restaurant a little bit early, and decided to wait in the bar. There, I enjoyed my first Mojito, and watched the mating rituals of assholes. Now, the really cool people are NOT at the bar/restaurant at 6pm. That's a given. But I didn't expect someone to be laughing so hard at his own dumb jokes as the guy next to me, who was doing the old "Can you hear this? Maybe I should turn it up" with his middle finger. (You know, like John Bender in The Breakfas weird that I know his WHOLE name...) And no, the asshole wasn't 15. He was about 45, which made it even dumber. One of the women in the party went outside to smoke, and the others started asking asshole man if he liked her, and he said, she was nice, but he didn't like her in a sexual way. Boy, nice to be happily married sometimes, I'll tell you. Speaking of which, that's about when said happy husband arrived, and we went to our table.

The restaurant was Foreign Cinema, which is a pretty cool place...they show films on one wall in the courtyard...last night would be La Dolce Vita, but we were too early for a drivein, they don't start the show until dark, and we were the geeks who get there early. So we ate inside, and as we had a corner table, we could watch the entire restaurant. Fun. They also have a pretty cool room which is a little art gallary, but I think they save that for private functions...very pretty in there, though.

We started with a dozen raw oysters, becuase food is nothing if not fun and dangerous. I decided to follow that up with some carpaccio... mmmm, very yummy, with arugula and parmesan cheese. Ted had a salad of endive, roquefort, pear, and 'pear essence'. Somewhat safer than the raw meat and shellfish. :) Then our dinner came...mine was a wonderful salmon, with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus, and Ted's was quail, with something on the side, I don't know what. We finished with huckleberry crisp (Ted) and a lovely pineapple/lemon/something else sorbet trio for me. Very nice evening, indeed. If you're ever in San Francisco, looking for a very yummy, pretty cool place to dine, check out Foreign Cinema. And for ambiance, nothing beats the guy mixing his choclate milk on BART. Remember that.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Violence Begins at Home...

I was walking the dog yesterday, listening to my beloved iPod, and this week's (last week's, really) This American Life is about crime, and the allure of it. There are several segments in each episode of TAL. The first was Julia Sweeney (Pat, from Saturday Night Live), talking about how she fleeced an old employer for 10K - 15K way back in her youth. Interesting. Perhaps even cute, because, you know, she's Pat. Maybe we should all write about the crimes WE'VE committed, and that might be pretty interesting...make sure the statute of limitations is past, however.

Anyway, the second segment was about a bank robber, Joe Loya, who enjoyed robbing banks, because he enjoyed the violence of it. This segment chilled me. I don't know how many movies I have seen, where you SEE someone who is abused and had a truly crappy life, and they come out violent themselves (not always, but I'm talking about the ones that do, here), and I always thought, that's all they know...they don't know any different. Maybe I don't catch the nuances that the filmmaker is trying to put in there, or maybe they don't understand the nuances of violence themselves, or maybe it's just a really complicated issue and different for everyone...but Loya had a very hard childhood. (Please, don't tell me that a hard childhood doesn't excuse his actions...I would never claim that it does...just that it has a role) His mother, whom he loved VERY much, and who loved him and saw for him a role in the church, died when he was 9. His father was unable to deal with his grief, unable to deal with his anger that his wife had died, and became violent with his children. VERY violent. He beat them to the point where finally Loya, who was maybe 16 at the time, pulled a knife and stabbed his father in the neck, trying to kill him, but in self defense, because the father was beating him yet again.

These tales of woe and patterns and circles of violence are, sadly, nothing new. What was new to me was Loya's explanation of why he ENJOYED robbing banks. Because he wanted to terrorize people. He wanted them to never get over the fear, the experience of being held up at gun point. Because he wanted them to understand the fear that he had felt at his father's hands. He wanted them to feel the world drop out from under them, like it had for him when his mother died. He wanted them to know that THIS is the real world, not whatever fantasy world they were living under. He said that he lived off of their terror...that it validated him and made him feel whole again. This was the first time I got a glimpse into the psyche of this kind of criminal, of a rapist or murderer or robber, of WHY they might enjoy such a thing. It chilled me to my bones.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Anyone Read Echidne?

Do any of my loyal 8 readers ever pop over to read Echidne of the Snakes, one of the blogs on my blogroll? She's a minor greek goddess, a feminist, and somewhat political (OK, very, but I like that about her). I really liked her post today. Check it out. Really good thinking, really good writing.

The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The...

I was mixing some ground lamb, turkey sausage, and turkey thigh meat into a mix with Parmesan cheese and herbs to make meatballs for Ted's birthday party dinner (spaghetti and meatballs, of course), drinking a glass of wine, listening to some music, and my mind drifted to Mad Cow disease...and I started thinking about that...about how my mother-in-law doesn't want any of us to eat beef anymore because of it, etc. Well, the safest answer to mad cow disease is of course to not eat beef, but that's not so likely, since I kind of think of it as the same as trying to keep people from having sex (abstinence only education) or from driving (to save our environment, or because of how many people die on the highways every year). People are going to do what they're going to do, and truly, the risk of mad cow is pretty darned slim. Even if I choose to become vegetarian for my own safety, or for my own enjoyment, or for moral/ethical reasons, that doesn't mean I want to worry about the safety of my friends' when THEY go to Outback or something. Then I started thinking that, unlike sex or driving, the solution to mad cow is truly, truly simple. Expensive, perhaps, but simple.

Kill the cows. Really, I'm not kidding. Not all of them, of course, but the old ones, yes. Mad cow is caused by feeding the cattle meat-by-products (making them into cannibals, you know, truly gross). This practice has been illegal for something close to 10 years in the United States. (Not sure exactly...someone could look it up if they wanted to...) Ever since the Mad Cow scare in Great Britain. (And of course, you could easily get me off on a tangent about how many people died in that...a couple of hundred maybe, vs. the number of people who die because of handguns in their homes in the U.S. in any given year, and how no one is about to give up their guns any time soon, but please, let's stay on topic, ok?) So, what if we didn't allow any more cows into our country that are older than 10 years old, from Canada or Mexico or ANYWHERE, so we wouldn't have to worry about getting diseased cows from somewhere else. And then, we have a cull or whatever they call it, and we kill all of the cows that are older than 10 years old in the United States (that are in any way possible going to enter the food supply, at least...not your neighbor's pet cow, if she has one!). Would this be cruel? Yes, but if they're going to end up hamburger anyway, it's simply a matter of time. Would it be expensive? Yes, the cattle industry would lose a LOT of money. But couldn't we subsidize this enterprise? I would think the U.S. government would (or at least, SHOULD) be willing to have a one time expense to ensure that everyone would be safe, that people could trust that U.S. meat is safe, and we don't have to worry about ordering a burger at the corner restaurant.

Keep your condoms and seat belts handy, for other unsafe practices, but I'm thinking of writing a letter to my congresswoman.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Happy Birthday Q!

This is Ted and me back in 1988...we had been dating for almost a year, and we were at his Uncle's wedding. Maya used to say that this is when Ted was the girl, and I was the boy, because his hair is long and mine is so short. :)

Today is Ted's 41st birthday, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have met him, to have convinced him to date me, and to have married him. He's a great guy...a wondrful husband, an amazing father, an incredible teacher (when he gets the chance), and a great radio personality as well. He genuinely likes people (as long as they don't try to pull him into some kind of pyramid scheme, or spend their lives complaining about everything).

Ted was born in Belleville, Ontario, Canada, and moved to the Bay Area when he was 1. He and I met in speech class, and didn't really hit it off at first, but then when I realized what a truly NICE person he is, I started to notice how handsome he is as well. :) All these years later (it will be 20 years in December of '07), here we are, both a little wider around the middle, our hair looks pretty different...he's SUCH an amazing, wonderful person, that I am thankful every day to have him in my life. I love you, Q, and if only I could afford it, I'd buy you this.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Time to Finish High School...

I think it may be time for me to finish my High School reading for English class. Maybe then I'll stop having those stupid dreams where I have to take a test for a class, and I haven't been going and can't really fake it because it's physics, and I've never had physics or anything. I sort of decided that it was time for me to start reading some American Classics a few years ago. Ted's eldest niece is in college, and she was reading The Grapes of Wrath. I realized that I had never read that, and it seemed kind of dumb for me to have missed out on that one. You may ask, HOW does a person get through a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature, and never have read these books? It's just that Comp Lit is focused on books from other countries, not so much the American authors. So, while I've read Things Fall Apart, The Tale of Genji, and Phedre, I've missed a lot of the American classics. Boy, I'm GLAD I made that decision, because The Grapes of Wrath was an awesome, amazing book. (Movie wasn't too shabby, was especially poignant to me that both were put out DURING the depression, so there wasn't hind was all current for the audiences of the book and the film). I had read The Red Pony in Jr. High, which scarred me for life, and I didn't think I ever wanted to read another Steinbeck book, ever, because, you know, THE PONY and all. So, after my great experience with The Grapes of Wrath, I read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, which was pretty frickin amazing, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But I got a bit wiped out on the classics, and so I got sidelined by a couple of more current books, not really 'classics', but great all the same. Except, well, I've been trying to read Cloud Atlas for awhile now, and have gotten through the first section, and am not loving it. I really want to love it, because it's such a breakthrough novel and blah blah blah, but other things keep coming along.

So the other night, I finished reading The Time Travelers Wife, which was VERY good, so good that I bought a copy for my friend's birthday gift. Hope she LOVES it. Since I was finished, I thought I would get back to Cloud Atlas. But then, last night, we watched Capote. Have you seen this film? It was amazing. Just amazing. I've never been that interested in Truman Capote, but the story of how he got so sucked in to the lives and stories of these murderers, while writing his last complete book, In Cold Blood, was SO interesting. Definitely Oscar material. One of Truman's good friends was Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Also, never read that one. I think it's a big one in High School, but not one of the books my teachers chose for us. I happen to own a copy, so I started that last night, and then next I think I'll try In Cold Blood, and then if I'm still in classic mode, it will be The Scarlet Letter or East of Eden, and if I need a break, it will be Cloud Atlas for another try. Wow...I have a lot of reading to do, don't I? Better get cracking. (And since I get maybe two or three pages in a day, at bedtime, it's a pretty slow process...)

My point, if there even is one to this rambling post, is that you might want to check out "Capote", and then, see if it spurs you to pick up any of the American Classics that you missed along the way.