Friday, June 30, 2006

Almost Famous

Back in 2002, before I knew what the word 'blog' meant, before I realized the obsession and time suck that is the blogging world, I discovered the obsession and time suckiness of genealogy. My great-great Aunt had written a letter back in 1963, which appeared to detail our family tree back aways, and I thought a nice birthday gift to give my mom would be a map of the family tree for her wall. As I tried to put it together, I realized that there were holes and inconsistencies in the letter, and so I had to try to figure as many as possible out. What I discovered was that there is a whole world out there of people who are OBSESSED with these details, with finding their families and getting the stories of their ancestors down on paper. It was fascinating. I ended up going to a few genealogy libraries, and maybe we'll take a trip to the East Coast someday to see the buried ancestors there. Instead of the map I wanted to make, I ended up with a binder full of reports on the different groups of our family, and their lineages, etc. I also discovered that we're cousins to some famous people. My mom likes to say that we were usually 'younger son' folks, meaning the oldest son got the inheritance, and our branch got a hearty handshake on the way out the door. So though we were related to famous people, there was never any money or even a direct line of ancestry to any of them. Last night, I was thinking about all of these distant cousins while trying to go to sleep, and thought, "I'll write about it on my blog." So here we go.

Direct Ancestor:
Our only KNOWN semi-famous direct ancestor is the unfortunate Sarah Osborne, who was accused of being a witch in the Salem Witch Trials, and died in jail before having the opportunity to be hanged.

Famous Cousins:
John Adams, the Second President of the United States. Common ancestor, his Great Great Grandfather, Henry Adams of Braintree, MA.

Obviously, John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the US, and son of John Adams, 2nd President.

Samuel Adams, Patriot. Cousin to John Adams, President. Same common ancestor to our branch of the family, which comes from another Samuel Adams, who was a Sea Captain. Ted likes to drink Samuel Adams beer in homage to our Patriot cousin. I know, the link is a kids site. So what! It was cute.

Ralph Waldo Emerson. The Waldo part of the family is descended from the same Henry Adams, and actually we have Emersons as well, from the same time and town in Massachusetts, but right now I can't find a shared ancestor for that side. But the Waldo side is definitely there, so that's pretty darned cool.

William Lewis Herndon, a Sea Captain who bravely "went down with the ship", and for whom the town of Herndon, VA, was named. Last common ancestor with William was his Great Great Grandfather, Edward Herndon.

Ellen Lewis Herndon, William Lewis Herndon's daughter, grew up and married Chester Allen Arthur, who became the 21st President of the United States. Unfortunately, she died before he took office, so she never had the opportunity to serve as First Lady. Last common ancestor is the same, Edward Herndon.

William Henry Herndon, law partner to Abraham Lincoln. Last common ancestor, yet another William Herndon.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, the writer of science fiction/fantasy novels, including one of my favorites, The Mists of Avalon. Last common ancestor, George Parkhurst, born in 1588. (See how far I'm willing to stretch to say I'm related to these people? 1588? That's crazy talk.)

Amelia Earhart - OK, this one is just by marriage. Her husband was George Palmer Putnam, with whom we share the common ancestor, John Putnam. John Putnam was also the great grandfather of Ann Putnam, one of the young girls who were 'afflicted' in Salem, MA, causing the demise of famous ancestor #1.

These next two are on my dad's side of the family. He did a family tree several years before, and gave me the software to manage the whole project as well. :)

Admiral George Dewey - Remember the Maine! He was first cousin to Martha Laura Moore, my 3rd Great-Grandmother, on her maternal side. Common ancestor, Zacharia Perrin.

Franklin J. King. I know, he's not famous, but he was reputedly one of the first people to sell Levis jeans, in his store, in Montague, CA. Levi Strauss himself came to sell the jeans to Frank. Franks wife, Martha (above), came around the Cape of Good Horn when they emigrated to California.

Unproven Hearsay and Speculation:
Direct Ancestry: Eleanor Stuart Upton, who is said to be closely related to the English Royal House of Stuart. This would have us related to Mary, Queen of Scotts, because she was a Stuart. (Cue Monty Python bit, 'The Death of Mary, Queen of Scotts'..."You are Mary, Queen of Scotts?" "I am." Crash bang boom scream crash. "Take that, Mary, Quees of Scotts.") This is a dispute of much contention between Uptons who want it to be true, and others who say there is no strong evidence. Either way, it is surely impossible to prove at this point, or someone would have done so by now. I'll not waste my 'beautiful mind' on it. (Sorry for the BB reference. Couldn't help myself.)

Charlemagne, yes, that Charlemagne. I'm not going to put a bunch of work into this one either because, come on, that's a LONG time ago. But according to this site, one of his direct descendents is Henry Adams of Braintree, MA, who is one of our direct ancestors. The same site also claims William the Conqueror and sundry other royals, including, wait for it...Charles II, the Bald (of France). That one cracks me up.

Marquis de Lafayette. Another stretch, without any actual names to go on this time, but on my father's side, the story is that my Great Great Grandfather, George Washington Arnold, was descended from Lafayette and one of George Washington's slaves. I wouldn't have ANY idea of how to prove that one, but it's so groovy that I'll keep it. ;)

So, we've had family in the U.S. for a long time, ancestors who have fought in all of the wars, some who died there, etc. What I tell Maya is that everyone's family is long and important, we are just fortunate to have some knowledge of ours, mostly due to a second cousin who was a Mormon and did the genealogy. What is the famous saying, "We are all of us descended from beggars and kings", I think. Something like that. Well, we've got beggars, indentured servants, maybe a slave or two, a lot of farmers, and a few famous folks thrown in for fun. :)

How about you? Any interesting beggars and kings in your family tree?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Children Who Feel Empty...

I found this article in my SF Chronicle Magazine, from Sunday's newspaper. It's pretty long, but worth a look if you have some time. Really, there's nothing here that I haven't thought before...too many kids today are overscheduled, over-pressured, and very unhappy because of it. One thought that came to me, though, is that this story is about upper-middle to upper-class kids...what about the lower-middle and lower-class kids. When their parents push them and push them, isn't it supposed to be a sign of caring? And conversely, if they DON'T push them, isn't that a sign of failure? Where's the happy medium?

The article, which is really exerpts from the author's forthcoming book, talks in detail about the difference between healthy involvement, overinvolvement, and intrusion in your childs life. To be sure, children need a lot of involvement from their parents. The amount of time we volunteer at Maya's school is proof of that, as well as time spent together cooking, helping with homework, etc. Here is a quote that discusses the differences between these three terms.
"Appropriately involved parents know the importance of stepping back as soon as is practical, and of respecting their child's striving toward independence. Overinvolvement is not simply "more" healthy involvement; rather it is involvement that can get in the way of child development....It is usually, but not always, ill advised, and some children can be remarkably forgiving about this sort of behavior. I tend to think of overinvolvement as the things we do for our kids - the forgotten dishes we wash, the unmade beds we straighten, the editing we do on our child's writing assignments. But overinvolvement stops short of psychologically manipulating the child. It is more likely to slow progress than to damage children. Intrusion, on the other hand, is always unhelpful, if not damaging.

It invades the child's developing psychological space, and blurs the appropriate and necessary boundaries between parent and child, invariably to the child's disadvantage...."I know you tried hard, but I can't understand why you're not ashamed to hand in a paper that still has errors," says the intrusive parent, mistakenly believing that shame will motivate her child to try harder. Promoting guilt and shame invariably works against progress - and, more importantly, they weaken the ties between child and parent."
At the front of the magazine was an Editor's comment, by Alison Biggar, which I felt was worth including. Here are 5 tips to raising a well-adjusted teen, with my comments as well, because duh, you know I can't NOT have an opinion:
1. Love the kid you get. Knowing you're lovable is one key to future happiness.
This seems like a no-brainer to me, but then when you watch Shalom in the Home and the Nanny and other stupid reality shows, you realize how many kids are not getting that message. Often because the parents are just too overwhelmed, and don't know what the hell they're doing when they try to parent effectively. And also, Love the Kid you get....really, we so often expect something different, a child who loves to read or loves math or who isn't afraid of the dark, or who excells at sports or debate or spelling...whatever. It's sometimes hard to let go of these expectations and appreciate the wonderful child that one has. It's imporant, though, for them to know you not only love them, YOU LOVE THEM AS THEY ARE.

2. A happy mom raises happy kids. Moms need to take care of themselves.
It goes without saying to me that this applies equally to dads. And marriages. A happy marriage has a much greater chance of producting happy children than an unhappy marriage.

3. Discipline is crucial. Kids need a sense of limits and boundaries. It helps them develop self-control.
Can't say enough on this one, and no, I don't think it has to be spanking vs. doormat. Too many people think those are the only options.

4. High standards are great, but guilt and shame are no way to enforce them. Let kids make mistakes so they learn to pick themselves up and become self motivated.
This is a hard one. Not the guilt and shame...I HOPE we don't put that on her. But the idea of letting them make their own mistakes is sometimes easier said than done. I've gotten better at not reminding her that she has homework, and letting her take the consequences if she forgets to do it. But it's not easy. Better have her learn to be self motivated now, rather than just be starting on this skill in college, I'm thinking.

5. Leave kids alone. An internal sense of self - an inner life - comes from quiet, uninterrupted time to think and dream, not from an intense calendar full of scheduled activities.
This one makes me think of a couple of Maya's classmates. D, for example, has ballet 3 days a week, girl scouts twice a month, violen lessons, piano lessons, and swimming lessons. I have read of the benefits of music lessons on math comprehension, of sports on learning to work as a team and physical fitness, of second and third languages learned earlier rather than later being of great benefit. So, am I somehow failing Maya by not pushing her into more activities? Maybe not so many as D, who has at least one activity every day, but more than her current one at a time? That's been our solution so far...she has taken Spanish, Hip Hop, Soccer, Ballet, Karate, Swimming, and Girl Scouts, but really, only one thing per semester or whatever. She doesn't fall in love with any of these activities, so she moves on to the next one. Maya is fiercely protective of her "down time" (so much so that she once tried to get out of vacuuming the floor by stating, "I have my whole life to do chores - I want to enjoy my childhood!" Don't worry, she vacuumed. ;) ). If she weren't so protective of her time, and if she were as enthusiastic about activities as D is (and I've seen her, she LOVES all of these activities), then I'm not sure what we would do to slow her down. I hope we would stick to the "One, maybe two" activity rule, but it's not easy sometimes. Of course, we couldn't AFFORD all of those activities at once, so really, it's probably a non-issue anyway.

So, if you're interested in what looks to be a good read about why certain children, especially those who seem to "have it all", are increasingly feeling empty and isolated, start with the link to the article, and for more depth, move on to the book. Looks like a disturbing read.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Welcome to the World of Blogging!

Maya's Granny, aka, my Mom, has decided to give this blogging thing a whirl, since she enjoys reading other peoples' blogs so much. Go check her out. :)

Everything Old is New Again

My buddy Neva and I went to dinner and a little shopping on Monday evening, and one of the places we ended up was Sephora. I wanted to get some Lorac mascara, as recommended by Gina. The girls who worked there had the bright, multi-colored eye shadow that was semi-popular in the mid-80s. You know, like Cyndi Lauper here used to wear.

Seeing them made me think a couple of thoughts...

1st, boy, I'm getting old, because things that were trendy when I was in college are coming back around.

2nd, it reminded me of my mindset when I tried these looks...I just wanted to be cool. That was the whole goal. I wasn't as pretty as my friends, so I thought, if I can't be pretty, I can at least be cool. Hence the super short buzz cuts died David Bowie orange, and the green eyeshadow applied just below the brow line. Good looks? No. Pretty? No. Cool? Hell yes. At least in 1986 they were. At least in Stockton. I'm not sure what the kids think about these looks nowadays. You know, seeing as how I'm 40 and all.

3rd, I was thinking about how it would look if I were to try this look again...being 40, trying the multi-hued eyeshadow. It reminded me of a quote from a gen-X film, Singles. Bridget Fonda says of her slacker would-be suitor, Matt Dillon, "Somewhere around 25, bizarre becomes immature." So, maybe not so cool on me these days.

On to the mascara...what is it about me, that I am physically unable to apply any mascara without smudging it onto my eyelid? I'm talking the area RIGHT above the lash line. I get little blobs of mascara there, and then I have to remove it with a QTip, which makes my mascara kind of clump together, and I have to fix that, and also fix the eyeshadow that I messed up with my QTip. It's a process, and one that I could easily do without.

Next make up thing, the whole foundation in summer thing. The most important part of foundation, should you choose to wear it, is that it match your skin color exactly. Well, that's easier in the winter than in the summer, because in the summer my skin color changes as I swim, walk the dog, live my life. What am I supposed to do, buy 10 different shades of foundation? That's crazy. So I took another tip from Gina, and got myself some tinted moisterizer. Not as much coverage as regular foundation, but the color isn't set, and it looks pretty darned good. Yay! I used to wear tinted moisturizer back in my early 20s, but had forgotten all about it. Thanks again, Gina!

Lastly, I cannot in good conscience recommend spray-on tanners. I bought some Neutrogena Micro Mist self tanner, thinking it would be better than a cream, because I can't reach the middle of my back with a cream. Well, you can't really tell where this stuff has decided to stay, and where it hasn't. So I now have weird patches of fake tan on my legs, mixed in with patches of white. I swear, it's enough to drive a person poolside, and wrinkles and skin cancer be damned! Not a good attitude, I know, and I'm sure I'll come to my senses pretty soon. But boy, those real tans look pretty good.

Truly lastly, check out the cute shoes I got on clearance!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

This Just In...Politicians SUCK

How else to explain the vote this week in the Senate, which would give the Congress the power to ban flag burning? What can this be, if not pandering to the right wing before the November elections?

As to flag burning itself, I hate to see it. I do not enjoy watching someone burn a flag on TV, because of what it represents, the hatred which that person holds for America. Usually when you see a flag burned, it is happening in a foreign land, and the people there are ANGRY with America. I guess I just want to be liked, want my country to be liked, and I hate that we so often fail miserably at that. But if watching our flag burn is upsetting to us, it is because that flag is supposed to REPRESENT something, and one of the things that the flag represents is our constitution, our freedoms, and our way of life. One of the things that our flag represents is our right to disagree with our government, with the things that they do and say, and to protest that government. In other words, one of the things that our flag represents is the right to burn our flag.

Does anyone else remember this debate going around in the late '80s, and that 48 states had passed flag protection laws, before the Supreme Court stepped in and declared those laws to be unconstitutional, and against our 1st amendment rights? This is the JOB of the Supreme Court, to decide whether the laws in our nation support or oppose our constitution. The will of the people is not as much a factor as whether the laws are constitutional or not. And if the will of the people is strong enough, it can overpower the Court, by first winning the votes in the House and Senate, and then ratification in 2/3 of the states. Since all 50 states have asked Congress to send them this amendment for ratification, it seems clear to me that this amendment has a pretty darned good chance of passing and becoming a part of our Constitution.

Usually when I see an American Flag burning, it is in a foreign land. I almost never see a flag burning in the United States. But maybe I'm missing something. Has flag burning somehow gotten out of control in the United States, to the point that we need a Constitutional AMENDMENT to deal with it? Let's see, according to this news article, there have been four instances of flag burning or vandalism so far in 2006. Four. Excuse me, but this doesn't seem like a problem that warrants our Senate's attention. How many people in our country have died from hunger so far this year? How many children have lost their families and homes due to poverty? How many people have died because they couldn't get the medical care that they needed, because they couldn't afford health insurance? I'm guessing the numbers in all of those cases is greater than four. This seems like a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns, to me. And I'm not even including those killed, maimed, and their lives destroyed by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Seriously, people, Congress has bigger issues, that they are willfully neglecting in order to consider this motion. People in our country, that they are willfully neglecting. Remember that when you vote.

One other thing that really frosts my cake here is this quote, taken from the same news article, from Utah Republican Orin Hatch: "The First Amendment was denigrated when five unelected judges took the power away from the people." Excuse me, but the Supreme Court is one third of our balance of powers, and like it or not, they are supposedly above the politics of elections. To reduce them to 'unelected judges' is to criticise the very founding of our country, and the constitution itself. I don't know that the constitution is a perfect document, and certainly the Supreme Court is anything but apolitical, but it's what we have, and so far it works in many ways. I resent Hatch trying to tout patriotism as though it is the property of the right wing, and act as though the judges are "activist judges' with an agenda at heart, when they choose to defend our constitution. I'm sure he'll feel differently if the current Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Then again, so will I.

UPDATE: Thankfully, this measure was defeated by one vote in the Senate today. Hopefully, the November elections will be such that the balance of power will be shifted, and this non-issue won't come up again for awhile. Still, one of my readers, Ann, commented that one of our California Senators planned to vote for the amendment. Be sure Diane will be getting a letter from me one day soon, and I'll be checking in on Barbara as well to see her views. And the picture up there? That's GW, desecrating the flag with a marker. Because it's not ok to burn it in protest, using our first amendment rights, but it's fine to write on it, make a bikini or a hat out of it, or strap it to the back of your truck so it gets all tattered and cool looking in the wind.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Katy's Kreek

Last weekend, we went to one of our favorite breakfast restaurants, called Katy's Korner, in San Ramon. They are located in a little strip mall, and it's kind of country kitchenish, and they have very yummy breakfasts. Ted loves the California Benedict, which is eggs benedict with avocado and turkey instead of the usual Canadian bacon. They have 9 different benedicts, some for vegetarians, some with crab or shrimp or smoked salmon. Mmmm. Tasty. They also have wonderful banana pancakes, and great omelets. Last weekend, I tried the Huevos Rancheros, which was a first for me. Tres' Yummy.

So, it turns out that Katy's Korner has a new sister restaurant, Katy's Kreek, located closer to home here in Walnut Creek. Katy's Kreek is open for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner, as opposed to Katy's Korner, which is only open for breakfast and lunch. Last night we realized we had no ingredients for dinner, and that if we went to the grocery store all hungry like that, we would come home with 5 lb. blocks of cheese, and huge bags of chips, and maybe still nothing to cook for dinner. So we thought we would try out Katy's Kreek. I'm glad we did.

The decor is more of a pub than the crowded country kitchen feel at Katy's Korner. I like the feel at the Kreek better. There are exposed beam ceilings, a big wooden bar, and big paintings all around the (rather large) room. There is also a little patio, with windows that open so you can dine almost 'al fresco', though why you would want the car exhaust is beyond me.

I ordered the un-PC named "Oriental Chicken Salad", which was pretty much your standard Chinese Chicken Salad, but with a refreshing twist...fruit! Not mandarin oranges, but fresh strawberries, grapes, honeydew, and maybe cantaloupe, I can't remember. Boy, it was good. The waitress, who has come over from Katy's Korner, said she has eaten that salad pretty much every day for 7 years, and never gets tired of it. I can almost believe it. Very tasty.

Ted had the old folks special (that's early bird, meaning we were there at 5pm for dinner), which was salad and a lovely scampi pasta, which he said was very good. Nice, succulant shrimp, and a very tasty sauce.

Maya has learned a few tips about dining in restaurants...if there's nothing on the menu you really want, check out the soup. Often there's a good option there. She got a 1/2 ham sandwich, and a bowl of clam chowder. She didn't care for the clam chowder (Ted tasted it, and gave it a thumbs DOWN), but luckily the sandwich and 2 3/4 glasses of lemonade she had filled her up. ;)

So, if you're out and about in the Creek, and looking for a nice place to cool your jets and have a nice meal, I'm recommending Katy's Kreek.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Why I Love Dire Straits

Saturday I went to the fabulous Dorothy's house for her birthday party, where we wilted in the heat, got smart and came inside, drank margaritas and ate yummy food. It was a lovely time overall. Thanks, Dorothy! One of the guests, an across the street neighbor, had a DVD for Live Aid, which we popped in and watched. LOVED it. LOVED seeing my first husband back when he was younger (That's David Bowie, and don't worry, Ted was married to Michelle Pfieffer at the time, so he wasn't jealous....and yes, when he sang, "I, I will be king, and you, you will be my queen" It only APPEARED that he was looking at Shaw. He was clearly looking at ME. Shut up.), loved seeing all of the bad clothes and hair that were presented that day. One thing, though, was a bit dear friends don't know Dire Straits. They know "Money for Nothing", and that's it. Sorry girls, but that's not OK. So, I've picked one of my very favorite Dire Straits songs for you to enjoy, Romeo and Juliet. Click and enjoy. And if you don't like it, if the lyrics and the heart involved don't stir something in you, we may have to reconsider our friendship. Consider yourselves warned.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

You Could Write a Book Full of the Stuff I Don't Know...Make that a LIBRARY

I saw this on Ally Bean's site, and thought I would give it a try. She rightly says that college was a long time ago, but really, I don't think I ever knew the ones I missed. Sigh.

Famous Monkey Challenge Quiz
Your Final Quiz Score: 30 right out of a possible 60
The Monkey's Final Score: 12 right out of 60

Well done, you have sent the monkey to his defeat. Your score is unquestionably higher, and thus the lowly monkey has been proven once again to be humankind's intellectual inferior. Good work, however your score does leave room for improvement. We should like to see the human dominate even more completely!

You scored in the 69th percentile.
(69% of quiz takers scored worse than you)

Your score: 9
Monkey's score: 3
-- Quite a sufficient job.
Your score: 8
Monkey's score: 4
-- Not too bad.
Your score: 5
Monkey's score: 3
-- Good enough I suppose.
Random Trivia
Your score: 8
Monkey's score: 2
-- A handy defeat of the monkey.

Link: Famous Trivia Quiz

Friday, June 23, 2006

Calling All Dead Heads

Any Greatful Dead fans in the audience? Ted did an awesome interview, just for fun, with a HUGE Dead fan who works with him. I'm not a huge fan, but it's fun to listen to someone who is, and hear what a smart guy who loves the music has to say. Go check it out. :)

Resistance Is Futile

Now that I'm working from home, phone calls have been coming to my home phone, which I don't really like. Sometimes someone else wants to use the phone, or if it's during work hours, Ted and Maya feel funny answering it.
1. A second phone line.
2. Vonage.
3. A cell phone.

Let's look at these, one at a time.
1. I don't really have a big problem with a second phone line, but I'm not sure of the intricasies of having one for work, and having maybe a different calling plan than our regular phone. Our regular phone has no special provisions for long distance during the week, and a LOT of my coworkers are long distance. SO...this could probably work, but I was too lazy to figure it out.

2. We were all supposed to sign up for Vonage, but I have to tell you that so far I am not impressed with it. It is very affordable, but the quality is very inconsistant. I was on the phone with my coworker the other day, for about an hour and a half. The sound cut out on his Vonage three or four times, and I couldn't hear him at all. He could hear me, but I couldn't hear him. Some other employees have it, and their voices are always all garbled. Others don't have a problem at all.

3. The dreaded cell phone. My main problems with cell phones are that they drop calls, or garble, and that I would rather spend the money on a cute new top or some nice wine. The reception here at home is pretty good, though, so that shouldn't be TOO much of a problem, and if the company is going to pay for it, that's another huge plus. The other thing is that with me working from home now, I start earlier in the day, but I'm in and out of the house more often. Not quite so tied to my desk. This has proven frustrating to both Ted and a coworker or two, so me having a cell phone is finally starting to make more sense than me not having one. Sigh.

So, during my lunch hour yesterday, I went and got a cell phone. Guess I'm a member of the 21st century now, huh?

And seriously, tell me, doesn't Picard LOOK like he's got a blue tooth? ;)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Why do we live here again? Can anyone remind me?

Maya said she likes Girl Scout Camp, but it's pretty hot, and I think she's starting to get a little bit bored with doing the same activities every day. And seeing as how we're in the middle of a fairly fierce heat wave, with the crappy air quality that goes with it, I don't blame her for not really enjoying being outside all day. Right now it's 11:20 in the morning, and it's already 91 degrees. Blech. Maybe we should move to Portland.

Today: Plentiful sunshine. Very hot. High 106F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.

Tonight: Mainly clear. Low 64F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.

Tomorrow: A mainly sunny sky. Hot. High 99F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.

Tomorrow night: Clear skies. Low 61F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.

Saturday: Sunny. Highs 98 to 102F and lows in the mid 60s.

Sunday: Mostly sunny. Highs 98 to 102F and lows in the mid 60s.
All I can say is, Thank God for A/C. Poor Maya. I'm sure they're in the shade and the pool as much as possible, but still. She hates the heat like I do.

Ode to Vegan Lunchbox

Inspired by 'Jennifershmoo" and her Vegan Lunchbox, and requested by Cherry, here is yesterday's lunch. Maya takes her lunch every day to Girl Scout Camp, and I ordered one of the cool Bento Lunchboxes that Jennifershmoo turned me on to. We're not vegan, so there's dairy in here. Lunch is a homemade bean and cheese burrito, rolled like a wrap (with pineapple/mango salsa in case she wants it), apple/apricot sauce, grapes and cherries, and a Costco brownie bite that came with the lunch Cherry and I had at a new Japanese place near Kohls. Who ever heard of brownie bites at Japanese restaurants? Not me, but Maya will be glad, anyway. On the side are a saturn peach and some Mango Tango juice. The girls are pretty active at camp, so she gets extra hungry. :)

Verdict: Everything was gone but the cherry pits and the salsa. She said that she really liked the burrito, and she agreed with me that it was strange that there were brownie bites for dessert at a Japanese restaurant. Now I have to think of something creative for today's lunch. 5 stars out of 5 for this meal.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Girl Scout Camp

Maya's going to girl scout camp this week. It's a one week camp at Little Hills Ranch, which is in San Ramon. She is really enjoying it so far. She's learning archery, they swim almost every day in a big pool, they learned to make egg drop soup and chinese chicken salad, they do art projects, etc. All in all, lots of fun. It's kind of a pain in the butt for me, because it takes about an hour to an hour and a half to drop her off and pick her up every day. But it's only for one week, and the benefit of starting work so early and working from home is that I can have a flexible schedule when I need it.
When you get closer to the camp, you're in the foothills between San Ramon and Castro Valley. There are several little farms...and lots of horses...
I saw some deer this morning...and...what's that?
Am I seeing things?
Nope. It's a zebra. I have to admit, I did not expect to see that.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

When I'm 64

Happy Belated Birthday to Paul McCartney, who turned 64 on June 18th. I'll confess, Paul was the Beatle I had a crush on first. And come on, look at that face. That's a face a 13 year old can love. He's And cute. ;) John was the one who I had a crush on in High School (though of course he was already dead by that point, lending him an even greater sense of tragedy and mystery). I sometimes thought, personality wise, that Paul was the Heart of the Beatles, and John was the Soul. Not sure where that leaves poor George and Ringo. I like to picture Paul strumming his guitar through the streets of a village in India, with a group of hippies following him, and everyone singing, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da". He was very hippy-dippy-do, tea-cozy, Beatrix Potter-ish. With John, it's more "Glass Onion", North Beach beatnik type. Poetry and coffee at 2AM. If you had a crush on Paul, you liked safe guys, cute guys, Leif Garret and Sean Cassidy type guys. (And I did, in 7th grade). If you liked John, you liked the loners, the more thoughful guys. Jim Morrison, maybe. If you liked George, you were showing that you didn't fall for the trap of "Paul or John", and that you could think for yourself. If you liked Ringo, either you loved the drums, or you were destined to fall for the geeky guy in "Can't Buy Me Love", though of course, he grew up into Dr. McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy. (Though, honestly, I don't think McDreamy is as hot as ANY of the hotties on Lost. Sorry. I just can't get the picture of him as a pre-pubescent kid paying the hot chick to date him out of my mind.)

Anyway, what started me to thinking about this was a mixture of things...Paul's birthday, of course, and the fact that he's "64" now, with no one to need him or feed him (though I'm sure he won't be single long, unless it's his choice). And a few weeks ago, Ted was listening to a Public Radio International piece on PRX called, "Everything is Right" that talked about why "Revolver" is the best album ever, not just the Beatles, but ever. Because in 4 months, they grew more than most bands do in a decade. More than many do in a lifetime. I heard some of it, and it was really interesting, though I confess that I usually prefer the "White Album". But "Revolver" was my first musical love. My mom says I had a certain dance I did when I wanted to hear side two, well before I could talk. And Maya's class used to clean up to "Yellow Submarine", and they all wanted to know what the heck "She Said", because the teacher would always turn off the CD player right after the first two words of "She Said, She Said", not knowing that she was torturing the 3rd graders, who wasted countless hours when they could have been concentrating on their multiplication tables, wondering, "What DID she say?" So the PRI piece resonated with me. It IS a pretty amazing album, especially when you look at it compared with the album they put out just a few months before, Rubber Soul. Then there was the fact that my mom won tickets from a local radio station to see them at Candlestick Park. They didn't know then that it would be the last tour performance ever. She told me she couldn't really see them, because they were so small, and she couldn't hear them, because of the screaming, but she had a great time, and it wasn't completely due to the hash-laced cookies someone brought along. ;) Then, there's the "To the Best of Our Knowledge" that I recently heard on my beloved iPod, about when they recorded the White Album, all (or almost all) of which was written in India. And of course, I grew up with the Beatles, and then I discovered them for myself in the 8th grade, and my mom would help me learn which songs were sung by Paul, which by John, the occasional find their voices and recognize them. All through High School, I had posters in my room, quotes that I had written, posted up on my walls and ceiling, and albums that I listened to over and over and over again. There's something about them that carries forward...they had broken up when I was 4, and still, I loved them. Maya knows their music. I hope her kids will as well.

There are groups that mean a lot to me over the years...but perhaps none so much as the Beatles. Thanks, Paul. Happy Birthday.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Happy Juneteenth!

Today is Juneteenth. I remember when we lived in Philadelphia, the HUGE celebration every June, comemerating the holiday, Juneteenth. I had never heard of this holiday before. In case you haven't heard of it, June 19th, 1865 is the date that Union General Gordon Granger landed in Galviston, TX, and announced that former slaves were now free.

Philadelphia has a much larger black population than San Francisco, something like 50%. So the Juneteenth celebration there is much larger than it is in S.F. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that it used to go down Fillmore Street, which was very close to our Japantown apartment...we just didn't know about it. It's one thing to not know of all of the various holidays of our immigrant cultures, but to not know of a holiday marking the end of our most shameful practice, slavery? Astonishing. However, this celebration rarely makes the front page or brings a lot of tourists to town, so I suppose it isn't all that surprising. If you'd like to learn more about Juneteenth, you can do so, here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day, Dado

I thought that maybe I could have a guest blogger today, to wish her father a very happy Father's Day. She's not as verbose as I am, but she loves him VERY MUCH. So, with no further delay, here's Maya.

Happy Fathers Day, Dado! I love you! You are the best!



Happy Father's Day, Dad!

My Dad and stepmom were here last weekend, which is a pretty groovy Father's Day gift to me. :) They live in Oregon, and so we don't see them as much as we would like to. My dad is a pretty great guy, whom unfortunately I did not get to know until I was an adult. One day maybe I'll tell that story, but not today.

Anyway, when my dad was here, I asked him about his time in the 60s, about his involvement in the Civil Rights marches, etc. I was right on some things, wrong on others. I thought he had heard Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. He did. I thought he was involved in the voter registration drives in the south. He wasn't. Here's the story:

By 1963, my dad had gotten pretty involved with a group of progressives whose main agenda was peace. I think he said he met some of them at a concert he was at in Rhode Island, and they were located in Connecticut. So, he went to Connecticut. Then he found out that they were all going to the March On Washington, so he decided to go as well. Off they went, and that's when he heard MLK give his famous speech. He said they were pretty far away from MLK, and didn't really catch on that something really important was being said until about 1/2 way through, because there had been people making speeches all day, etc. So, my dad was very moved by the speech, and he and some of the others in his group decided to join in with a group (maybe the War Resistors League?) who was marching from Quebec to Guantanimo. So off they went, marching maybe 20 miles a day, staying in peoples homes, talking to folks about peace, and civil rights, etc. He said that the white people were nice to them until they realized what they were up to, and then they were mostly confused and a bit cold. The black people were pretty much nice to all of them, white and black. When they got to Macon, they were arrested for fraternizing with black folks, and got to spend some time in jail. People pretty much had decided that they were communists and "N Lovers". While in jail, the men and black women were expected to work while in jail (interestingly enough, not the white women. Chivalry, perhaps? Afraid of what that would do to the image of the town?), and this group refused, because they said that they had committed no crime, and thus would not work. So they got put in a different area, separate from the other prisoners. That's where they were when JFK was shot and killed, and they found out about it from some of the black women who came in from working and had heard about it. Then the sheriff found out that some people were forming a mob, and were going to come over to the jail and get the "commies" out, and lynch them for their involvement in the civil rights movement. Well, the sheriff didn't want that happening in his town, so he took them all out of jail and told them to get the hell out of town, which they promptly did. From there, they went to Atlanta, which was where they got to actually meet MLK in person. He took groups of 10 people, and they got to ask him a few questions, etc. He gave my dad a book, and he autographed it. Unfortunately, my dad doesn't have the book any was stolen from him. From there, he went back up North, as the rest of the marchers who had not been arrested had moved on my then.

My dad was very involved in this group of peaceniks, and he decided to send in his draft card as a protest. There wasn't a lot of US involvement in the war at that point, so it was more of a symbolic gesture than it would be later on. He has a felony on his record because of his refusal to go to Vietnam, and his refusal to call himself a Conscientious Objector (he didn't think it was right to say "don't send me", but be willing that other people should go). He became involved in progressive newspapers in Portland, OR. But all of that's another part of his, I'm just trying to get down the part about his trip down South.

I've told this tale very poorly...I asked my dad to write it all down, so his grandkids could have an idea of his involvement in that era of history. He said he had thought of writing a book about it, but there were so many out there already, he didn't think it would sell...but for family, he thought that was a great idea. I hope he does. I want Maya to be able to tell her kids about it, and get the details and the telling of it closer to the truth and the drama than I have done here.

What I gain mostly from this story is that my father is, and was, a man of ideals. He was willing to work for those ideals, willing to go to jail for them, willing to risk great things for them. I'm very proud of that, very proud of him. Happy Father's Day, Dad, and to all of the Fathers out there, who live their ideals.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

School's Out For Summer

Yesterday was the last day of school for Maya....can't believe she'll be in the 5th grade this fall. They had a play at her school yesterday, on Westward Expansion. It was a musical, with touching, sad numbers like "Trail of Tears", and a rousing number at the end about the Golden Spike. Fun. I may be biased, but I thought Maya did great. She was in the back for much of the play, but for the Golden Spike number, she was in front, looking great. I couldn't get many pics because there were parents in front of me...but we asked her to recreate a pose for us. :)

Friday, June 16, 2006

I Feel Dirty...

Because I watched THIS last night. I'm surrounded by books, some of them works of great literature, ALL of them better than watching Britney's veiny boobs hang out of her top. I have DVDs. I have cable, with lots of options. But I watched Britney cry instead. If you have now lost all respect for me, I completely understand. I have, too. I need a bath with some comet to feel clean again, I think.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


The worst, worst, WORST part of parenting, at least of mothering, is the guilt that society tries to push upon us. L at Homesick Home wrote a wonderful post the other day about her feelings after reading a New York Times article titled "Breast Feed Or Else". I read L's post, and I was horrified...horrified that people are actually equating not breastfeeding your children with smoking while pregnant. With going to a bar, riding a mechanical bull, and smoking while pregnant. Give me a fucking break. (Sorry, I tried not to swear there, but no other word worked for me. Get over it.) The current culture has really made a 180 from when our parents were babies, and you know what, THEY turned out OK. (Some women probably smoked while pregnant back then, come to think of it.) The pressure that is put on women today to be the PERFECT mother is insane. You have to breastfeed. You have to wear your infant in a baby sling. You have to co-sleep with your baby in your bed. Every moment of every day (and night) has to revolve exclusively around your baby. No wonder parents get all weird and enroll their children in 17 activities per week, pressure them to be the best, and do everything they can to promote a high self esteem. (Just read another post at Rockstar Mommy, talking about how all of the kids on the softball team get trophies...I'm not surprised that the one her stepdaughter received ended up broken on the floor...if the worst kid on the team gets the same reward as the best kid on the team, then the trophy is pointless. If you don't want them to be broken hearted about not getting a trophy, maybe don't give ANY trophies out, but giving them out for participation seems kind of goofy to me. Sorry...back to my main point, about breastfeeding.) I don't think these are bad practices. They are all wonderful practices, normal and right for many people. It's not wrong to wear your baby in a sling, or to co-sleep, or to breastfeed. These are all practices that go back to the beginning of human history, and it is our modern ideas of autonomy and fierce independence that don't really mesh with these parenting styles, which is probably why so many families are mixed-up and stressed out these days. What is wrong, however, is the PRESSURE. It's hard enough to function on 3 hours of sleep a night, or deal with a colicy baby, or or or...without people telling you how wrong you are for making the choices that you have made.

I'm not really talking about women who cannot breastfeed for one reason or another, but want to. I think those women are in a very bad situation, because they surely feel that they are somehow failing their children. I'm thinking about the women who could breastfeed, and choose not to. You know what? I know many of them. You know what? Their kids are fine. In fact, they're (almost) as good as mine. (And the almost has nothing to do with breastmilk, just the undeniable superiority of my child. OK, sorry. All done.) I know kids who co-sleep with their parents. I did as a child. I turned out fine. But when Maya was born, we needed time to be a couple, I needed time that I was not "attached" to my child 24 hours a day. And she's fine. Does she hog the bed? Yes. Will her future significant other WISH she had coslept, so she would have some idea of how to share a bed without whacking someone in the face? Probably. But that's another issue entirely.

I have a friend in PA who did not breastfeed her children. When her oldest came down with his first ear infection at 6 months of age, she was convinced that it was because she had given him formula. That if she had breastfed him, he would have better immunities, and would not have had the ear infection. But it was too late, and here she was, doomed for all eternity to be a terrible mother. Guess what? I breastfed Maya, and she got ear infections. Chronic ear infections, one after another. While she was still being breastfed. (My friend was SO happy to hear that, made at least SOME of the guilt go away...)

It seems to me that the answer here is to go easy on each other. We need to educate people of the benefits of breastfeeding their babies. We need to make it easier for mothers who DO breastfeed to do it. For example, maybe if new moms didn't have to go back to work so soon , they might have an easier time of it. (But our society doesn't TRULY value having a parent home with the children, no matter what the rhetoric is. If we did, we would fund it. End of story.) We need to tell women what some of the benefits are. 1. As L said, it's FREE. 2. You don't have to warm a bottle in the middle of the night. 3. Until they start solid foods, their poop doesn't stink. (MAJOR BONUS!) These are pretty good benefits to the mom. And the benefits to the baby, the health benefits, are well researched and documented, though in all honesty, I still cannot say that my child is any healthier than children we know who were formula fed from day one.

Really, what we need to do is stop with the pressure. How someone else feeds their child is none of my business. Wanna breastfeed? Great. If you choose to feed your baby formula, more power to ya. Honestly, I have bigger fish to fry than to worry about other women's boobs.

Movie Update

We watched "To Kill a Mockingbird" the other was pretty true to the book, very good, very sad. Too bad they took out the part about Scout and Dill being 'engaged'...I always thought that was sweet and funny, but they only had 2 hours, so I guess it was best to stick to the main points as much as possible. Also no sight of the rich white man with the black family. Missed him too. I do understand, however, the difficulty involved with taking a book and all of the nuances involved in that medium, and putting it into a coherant narative for people to view and understand on the screen, so I'm going to forgive them.

I didn't recognize Robert Duval as Boo. But I did recognize Esmerelda from Bewitched as one of the neighbors. I used to watch that every day on reruns, and I really liked it. When I was a pre-romantic (but not much pre) preteen, I liked Dick Sargent better, because he's better looking. But as an adult, Dick York was better, because hell, he's so funny. And then there's Uncle Arthur. Sigh. I did love that dumb little show.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I'm a bit our American diet so screwed up that we need all of these products to help us with our intestinal tract health? Is no one pooping anymore? Last week, in my multi-subject post, I mentioned a product that kind of freaked me out called the "Almighty Cleanse". It freaked me out because there was a God/poop connection going on that was somewhat confusing. Well, even though none of my 4 loyal readers commented on the product or it's disturbing connection between the Almighty and colon health, apparantly plenty of people found my blog by googling "Almighty Cleanse". So people are out there, looking this stuff up. People like me, who think it's freaky as all get out? Or people who say, "Almighty Cleanse? Gotta get me some of that God/poop stuff RIGHT NOW!" I don't know anymore.

So, last night, I came home from a school board meeting, which was an interesting meeting to say the least, and because of that fact, I couldn't go to sleep right away. So I ate some leftover pizza, drank a glass of wine, watched an episode of Buffy on my DVD (Crush, which I honestly don't remember seeing can that be?), and then did a bit of channel surfing before I went to bed. While channel surfing, I came across a disturbingly freaky looking guy pushing something called "Dual Action Cleanse", which he claims removes the toxins in your digestive tract by 'removing caked on fecal matter stuck to the sides of your colon." WAY TMI, I gotta say. Which made me wonder, if this stuff is good for you, why is he so freaky looking? Is this just snake medicine, something that no one with a healthy system really needs? Or is this something that we could ALL use, and save our lives and health? I have heard that colan cancer is the #1 most preventable cancer out there, and intestinal health is the best way to prevent it. But isn't a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains enough? Do we really need to resort to this stuff? WTF? And, as our babyboomers get older, are we doomed to more and more ads for colon health? What's next? Throw me a bone here, people.

Lastly, does anyone remember the Saturday Night Live skit with Phil Hartman (click the link to see the commercial) doing a commercial for a breakfast cereal called "Colon Blow"? Well, I'm not sure if this is a joke, but it looks like a real product. Ewww. Or maybe they're just making money off of the t-shirts and hats...what would Stacy and Clinton have to say about a t-shirt that says "" on the back?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Black Diamond Mines

Maya's class had a fieldtrip today to the Black Diamond Mines, in Antioch, CA. (That's Maya's BEST friend, Jackie, in the picture to your left.) I had never been there before, so I was happy to volunteer to drive some of the kids, and go check it out. The mines were for coal in the mid-1800s, and many men who came to California looking for gold ended up working in the coal mines instead. Actually, though we found out that CA coal is inferior to coal from Washington State or China, so when that coal started coming into CA, the mines closed down, and the cities disappeared. I kind of expected to find little ghost towns, but they took the houses down and took the wood with them. Interesting. In the 1930s, they found silica in the mines, which they used for making glass. The mine shafts were modernized, and stayed in use for many years.

After we went into the mine, we came out and had some lunch. Then we hiked up to the Rose Hill cemetary, where the inhabitants of Somersville (one of the towns that supported the mines) buried their dead. It's a pretty small cemetary by today's standards, and a lot of the gravestones have been broken, but it was also pretty, with the oak trees and the rolling hills in the background. It was sad to see how many young children there were in the cemetary, and how many families lost several children.

Overall, it was a fun day, with some serious themes. The kids got to learn about child labor in the mines, black lung disease, terrible working conditions, etc. My main thought was, how desperate would people have to be to work in these travel all of the way to California to work in mines so small that they couldn't even stand up straight? Amazing. Amazing the things that people have to do in order to have a better life. Like the people who come to America in container ships, hoping for something better.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Reading Lists...

I had a fabulous weekend, but for some reason, not so much in the mood for talking about it today. Maybe tomorrow. So, what else is on this mind o' mine? I kind of wish I had saved the 'Almighty Cleanse' bit or the very cool lunchbox link for today, because I don't have much. Oh well. I didn't, and now it's too late. Well, I was just thinking of going to the library to pick up this book, which is on hold for me, and then I thought I would also pick up Jane-Emily, which was suggested by L on her blog. And that got me to thinking of a cool thing that Maya's class did this year, which was that they were assigned one genre per month, and they had to read at least one book from that genre. I had planned to get all A-type on her, and pick out a bunch of books for her each month from her genre, and I did at first..but then I backed off a bit and let her pick her own books. She seemed to be fine with it both ways. Anyway, I thought this was a pretty good idea. She read:

General Fiction
  • Time Stops for No Mouse
  • The Sands of Time
  • No Time Like Show Time
    These are all written by Michael Hoeye, who lives in Portland and takes yoga from my step mom, Julie. They are sort of mysteries, sort of thrillers, sort of sci-fi fantasy, so I figured that made them general enough. Maya liked them so much, I bought them for a couple of kids for birthday gifts.

  • From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
  • Several American Girl Mysteries

    Science Fiction
  • A Wrinkle In Time
  • The Forgotten Door
  • The 21 Balloons

  • Dogs - A book about dog evolution from wolves, and different breeds, which are two of her favorite subjects. She got it from the library, so I'm not sure about author, etc.

    Two books by the same author
    (they then had to write a report about that author).
    For the life of me, I cannot remember what she read for this assignment. I think it was someone who writes American Girl stories.

    That is this month. She gets a lot of subscriptions, so she can count any of them. Among her subscriptions are:
  • Stone Soup
  • Cricket
  • Nickelodeon
  • Discover
  • National Geographic Kids
  • Spider

    Historical Fiction
  • Indian Captive
    I don't remember what other books she read in this category, but she read several, and really enjoys this genre.

    Was there actually this category, or am I remembering wrong? I don't know. If there was, she probably read
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends

    The thing is, she's a voracious reader, LOVES to read, so she'll be reading all summer. She read a lot more than what I listed...these are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head. She is going to have these same two teachers next year (they teach 4th and 5th graders together), so I'm guessing that they will do the same genre thing. Any suggestions for books she might like?
  • Sunday, June 11, 2006

    What About This, is THIS Wrong of Me?

    Maya and I were out and about today, and Gloria Gaynor's disco hit, "I Will Survive" came on the radio...and it took me back to 1999, when this little video was making the rounds at work...I'm sorry, but I just looked at it, and it STILL cracks me up.

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Is It Wrong of Me...

    To be thankful that the damn bluejay that used to SCREAM outside my window EVERY morning at dawn seems to have dissapeared? Not that I wished him harm...just that he would move to another neighborhood and bother someone else. Maybe he did. Don't really care. Now if we can just do something about the guy with the bass cranked up so high on his car stereo that it shakes the buildings...

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    Too Many Random Thoughts...

    Better grab yourself a beverage and sit down, because I have way too much today, and I suspect it's just going to spill out in a bunch of randomness. If I were to make a post of each one, and save them for future use, boy, I'd have a lot of posts ready, wouldn't I? I could use them one by one when we go on vacation or something. But I have faith in my bloggareah, and that I'll still have other things to tell you all in the future, so I'll just spill it all now. Some of it is thoughtful and important, some is more of the 'light and fluffy' variety. I'll start with a thoughtful thought. ;)

    The Kindness of Strangers
    I was listening to This American Life on my beloved iPod this morning, and heard an interview with a WWII vet named Lanier Phillips. You really should hear it for yourself, and you can, here. It's the last story in the show titled, Them. In short, he is a black man who served in the Navy in WWII. He was a mess steward (shining shoes and washing underwear, serving food, because that's what black soldiers got to do back then) on the U.S.S. Truxtun, which was in the North Atlantic. The ship went down off the coast of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland, Canada, in February of 1942. The coal miners in the town risked their lives, climbing down cliffs, to save as many sailors as they could, and indeed rescued almost 40% of them. What Phillips experienced in St. Lawrence changed his life forever, in a deep and profound way, because he had never experienced it before. What did he experience? Kindness at the hands of white people. He was nursed, brought into homes, fed at the table with everyone else, put to sleep in their beds. When he got back to the U.S., he tried to enter a restaurant (maybe it was a mess hall...I wasn't clear on that) in order to ask where the window was that served 'colored' people, because he knew he wouldn't be allowed to dine with the white people who were inside. This restaurant was near a base, and was full of military, MPs, and German and Italian prisoners. Phillips was in his uniform. As he opened the door, he was grabbed by an officer, who threw him to the ground, held him down by putting his booted foot on his neck, cocked his gun at him, and told Phillips he should shoot him dead for even thinking of going into the restaurant where the white people were. OK, lets dine with the friggin' Nazis, but not our own soldier, who is black. Ugh. UGH. UGH Because of the kindness he was shown in St. Lawrence, Phillips decided he was no longer inferior to white people, and he worked to get promoted into jobs that black soldiers were usually not given, and he worked for civil rights. And he never forgot those people in St. Lawrence. He saved his money, and sent regular checks to the City of St. Lawrence, asking that they use it for whatever they needed. He knew that the mines had been closed there, and that the people of St. Lawrence were having a hard time of it. The City decided to use some of that money to build a playground at a local school. They named it Lanier Phillips playground. He is still alive, and lives in Washington, DC. He was also interviewed for All Things Considered. I'm not sure if it's the same interview or not, but you can hear it here. This story really stuck with me...reminded me just how important it is that we be kind to folks. You never know when you might change someone's life for the better.

    Modern Day Governesses
    What about this article in the NY Times that says more people are now homeschooling their kids, but not for the usual reasons. The usual reasons are failing schools or religious beliefs (e.g., "I don't want my child to learn about evolution"), but for these kids it's because school doesn't fit into their family life style for whatever reason. Perhaps they travel a lot for work, and want the children with them. Whatever. What's most notable about these families is that they're not teaching their kids themselves, their hiring teachers to do the job full time. Sounds like wealthy kids in English novels, with their governesses, wouldn't you say? I'm not really judging these families, I just thought it was interesting.

    I'm In Trouble
    I suspect this one will disappoint some folks...we sent "Grey's Anatomy" back to Netflix, unwatched. We had watched a couple of episodes, and while I liked it, I could see that it was a good show and well written, I couldn't really bring myself to care about the characters. I've heard that season 2 is pretty darned good, so maybe we'll try again when that comes out on DVD. Too bad they don't really show reruns on tv during the summer anymore...remember when they showed the season, without huge breaks in the programming, and then they showed it again in the summer? I must admit, I miss those days.

    One Lucky Kid
    I came across this blog the other day, and boy, this woman makes some COOL lunches. Those of you with kids in school, or to be in school someday, take a look at this site. She's awesome. She's also vegan, but I don't see why anyone couldn't vary these if they wanted to. Lucky kid she has there. I'm thinking I want to get these containers for Maya's lunches in the fall. I wonder if she is too old for this kind of stuff?

    Getting Out of Dodge
    We have some good friends who will be moving away from the area soon. We will miss them. They're leaving Livermore and going to New Hampshire. I've never been to New Hampshire, but if I had lived in Livermore for the past 5 years, I would be ready to give it a shot. I think we're having dinner with them on Sunday. :)

    School Play
    Maya has a play on Monday at her school. It's sort of a wrap up of California History, I think. It's a musical, which will be fun. Actually, they get to perform it twice, on Monday for the other students, on Friday for the parents. I'll try to remember my camera. :) Also later today is the science faire at school. I guess I'll go on over and check out some of the experiments. Next week is the last week of school. YAY.

    End of an Era?
    My term is ending on the school board. I have a meeting next Tuesday when we will vote for the newest members. I will miss it, but it will be nice to have those looong evenings back. It's been pretty interesting, though, and it has given me a sense of really belonging to the school community that I don't think I would have felt so strongly had I not 'done my time'.

    What the heck is ITV, and who is Danny Vierra? I'll tell you who, he's a minister who's hocking a product to help you keep your colon clean and healthy on TV. Now I happen to agree that we need to eat more fiber in our diets, generally, and a healthy colon is a good thing. Probably much more important than most people realize. But seeing this guy talk about the Almighty Cleanse kind of creeped me out. Turns out he has a ministry in our backyard (not literally our backyard, but in Lodi, CA, which is next to Stockton), so he's preaching the gospel out in the valley. So, does that mean the Almighty Cleanse is somehow related to God? To quote an oldish movie line, "The world is wild at heart and weird on top."

    All of the initiatives I voted for in the election on Tuesday failed. That means NO to money for libraries, preschool for all, and community colleges. Sigh.

    Stupid Is As Stupid Does
    Stupid Vatican and their stupid proclimations about how dangerous same sex marriage, abortion, contraception, and In Vitro fertilization are to the family. What? How do these things endanger families? Boy, they bug me. Luckily, I'm not Catholic, so I try not to worry too much. But they have a LOT of power, and for them to say stupid things pisses me off, because they really do affect how people think.

    My dad and step mom are coming to visit tomorrow and Sunday. :) Should be great, and relaxing. I'm looking forward to seeing them. Guess we should clean house tonight...

    Never Mind, I'll Pass
    I saw this on Lotus's blog yesterday. A guy living on Monkey Chow for a week. That's so stupid it's great. :) You can check out his blog.

    Time For Bacation?*
    I'm so ready for a vacation I can taste it. Ted's got it even worse than I do. We're trying to put something together, so I'll let you know. :) Depends a lot on $$$. Last year we went to Hawaii, this year will be more reasonable, like maybe Tahoe or somewhere else we can drive to. Have a great weekend!

    *That's not a's a pronunciation we picked up from one of Maya's old preschool teachers, Rekha. She's the one who used to tell us, "She pooped."

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    Proof of the Apocalypse #2

    I found myself agreeing with some guy on MSNBC last night. I thought that was a conservative run station, and probably it is (I don't watch enough of it to be sure), but this guy, Keith Olbermann, was talking about She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named* last night, and her latest desperate plea for attention...and I agreed with him. Of course, nothing that she has done lately has changed my opinion of her in the least, because I HATE HER and I think she is EVIL and surely has 6-6-6 tattooed on the underside of her tongue (as well as the inside of her eyelids), but maybe, just maybe, this time she has gone too far in her evil diatribes. Instead of merely calling all liberals traitors who hate our country, now she has gone on to call the widows from September 11th, witches who are 'reveling in their status as widows'. Never content with being merely Demon Spawn and producing bile from every orifice possible, she then goes on to say, "By the way, how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy."

    She's mad because she sees these women as profiting from September 11th, and really, you stupid hypocrite, who has profited as much as you? You've made a career of it. Of course, these specific widows supported John Kerry, and do not think that George Bush has made our country any safer in the 5 years following September 11th, but last I heard, that wasn't a crime.

    What I want to know is, will this latest bile spewing doom her career, finally, when all of her previous hatred has been lapped up by the extreme right wing, or will they continue to go along and buy the rhetoric? Only time will tell.

    To sort of quote Keith Olbermann (Never thought I'd be saying THOSE WORDS), "I wouldn't want to be the one trying to defend her on Judgment Day, or trying to find her soul."

    *She must not be named because it makes me vomit. No picture for this post, because again, the vomiting.

    13 Embarrasing Songs - MEME

    13 Songs that I LOVED when they were popular, but which it is humiliating to admit to ever having liked now....mostly crap from that pre-teen sentimental era, but a few from later as well...ugh. The things I do for you people.

    1. Have You Never Been Mellow - Olivia Newton John. Before she got Physical, she was all mushy and such. This song was on the radio every 5 minutes or so when I was 9.
    2. Wildfire - Michael Murphy. Had the perfect combination of tragedy (she died) and horses. Again, I was 9.
    3. Run, Joey Run - David Geddes. This one is truly horrifying, but yeah, I liked it. Even then I realized this was something to hide, however.
    4. Lost in Love - Air Supply. Boy I loved this. My brother got the cassette tape, and hated it so much he gave it to my best friend, and we listed to it OVER AND OVER again. LOVED it. Sigh. Good times.
    5. Tears - Rush. This was on side 2 of 2112, which I inherited from my brother when he moved out. I loved side one, the whole concept thing, but I have to admit to liking this horrid song as well when I was in 9th grade.
    6. Say Say Say - Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. This may be the most painful to admit so far, because really, I was old enough to know better. But I just loved the Beatles SO MUCH, and Thriller was SO cool, that I decided this song MUST be good, no matter how lame it sounded.
    7. The Way I Want To Touch You - Captain and Tenille. This one is especially embarrasing, because my cousin Carey and I had a routine choreographed to it, and after we performed the dance, we would practice kissing with her pillows. Sad, I know. We were very young.
    8. You Light Up My Life - Debbie Boone. Boy I liked this song. I had fantasies of Ted and I singing it in between contractions while I was in labor, because it was SO CAMPY by this point, and it would make us laugh. What more can a person ask for between contractions than laughter? Nope, didn't happen. My contractions were so close I'm lucky I had time to BREATHE between them. Ugh.
    9. Come Sail Away - Styx. Rosmary and I used to crank this one as we drove out to Ladd's Marina in Stockton, trying to get away from suburban teenaged angst bullshit. Loved this song. It's bad, especially when you realize there are aliens involved. But still, I can happily sing along at any moment.
    10. The Best of Times - Styx. See #9. All of the above applies, plus the part of #8 about my labor.
    11. Waiting for a Girl Like You - Foreigner...Didn't every girl love this song back in the day? (Don't answer if you're under 35!)
    12. Open Arms - Journey. OMG, this song was my LIFE in the 9th grade. Please, don't beat me up. I know I'm a geek.
    13. Keep Me Hanging On - Kim Wilde version. I know, I should be ashamed. And I am. But I LOVED it in spring of 1987.

    So, I have now decided this Thursday 13 is a Meme! And you've been tagged! Py Korry and Ramzi, because you've never done a Meme and it's time. Jefito, because I don't think you will and you should. Lotus, Wendy, Dot, Ms. Mama, and Cherry, because I want to see what you'll say. 8 Hours, because you never get tagged, and it's time. Actually, this is getting old. I'd like to see everyone on my blogroll do it, because I want to know what crappy songs you LOVED. :) Gina? L? MIM? Jessica? The other J? Anyone else who wants to play? Come on people! Hop to it! Let's go!

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    A Fish?

    If you remember, our good friends Cherry and Eric came over for dinner last weekend. In addition to the lovely ice cream and homemade sauces that Cherry made, they also brought us this lemon. I know, it looks like a grapefruit. I suspect that Cherry has been waiting to see if it pops up on my blog, because it's so huge, and because, well, blogarreah. Well, finally, it's time.

    Every time I see this lemon sitting next to our other fruits, I wonder, "What shall I do with this lemon? Lemon pound cake? Lemonade? What?" The most common use for lemon in our house is as a sort of bath for lamb. It's a little known fact that if you squeeze lemon juice onto lamb, it takes some of that gamey flavor away. (The other way to avoid gamey lamb is to buy really good quality lamb, and trim the fat pretty well.) So, I started wondering, how much lamb would I need to make use of this lemon? Which reminded me of an incident several years ago, when Maya was maybe 3 or 4. Being carnivores (omnivores, really, but carnivores is more to the point, don't you think?), we like to eat meat. We are often searching for the best quality meat, locally raised, etc, because it is healthier and better tasting. So, Ted decided to get some meat from a Halal meat place not too far from us. Inside, while he was ordering the meat, Maya was looking through the display glass, and what they had on display was lamb heads. (BLECH!) She wasn't sure what they were, I guess, because she turned to Ted and said, "I think that's a fish." HA! He didn't tell her otherwise. Anyway, I don't think I'll be buying any lamb heads for this lemon. Maybe some fish.

    Recipe Wednesday

    Back when I first moved to San Francisco in 1987, I moved there with Troy, who was ready to brush the stench of Stockton off of his shoes as much as I was. He found us a great flat in SF, at Fulton and Masonic, for only $850 a month. Boy, what a deal. Anyway, Troy was a great guy, he used to work at a hotel down near the airport on the graveyard shift, and I worked at a hotel in downtown SF on the 4 - 12 shift, and we both went to school in the mornings. A few times I woke up and found flowers on my pillow...he had been driving home from work and saw someone selling them on the side of the road, and bought them for me. What a romantic guy! Of course, he was gay, so it wasn't THAT kind of romance. Anyway, in addition to being incredibly gifted linguistically (he picked up languages like stray dogs pick up fleas....he spoke English, French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Japanese, and I suspect a bit of Portuguese) one of his dreams was to be a chef. When we were in Stockton, he had taken some cooking classes at the local community college, and really liked it. He had some great recipes. He also had some pretty good, very basic cookbooks, like the one where I found this recipe, my favorite Linguine and Clams recipe that I've ever found. It's not fancy. It doesn't have fresh clams and white wine in the mix. But it's easy, and it's tasty, and it's ruined me for Linguine and Clams in most restaurants. And I don't have it anymore. I can make it myself, but I don't know how much of what, I just eyeball it. So, if you're game, and if you're not a vegetarian, or you're the kind of vegetarian that thinks fish is a veggie (You know who you are!), here you go. I'm pretty sure that the recipe came from this International Betty Crocker cookbook, which I just now ordered from We'll see when I get it how well I remembered the recipe!

    Linguine and Clams
    1 Onion, minced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    butter and oil, for sauteeing onion and garlic
    3 cans minced or chopped clams, 1 drained, 2 not drained
    1 bay leaf
    Flour or Corn Starch mixed with milk
    Parmesan Cheese (added to recipe by Cherry, who always knows how to take a good thing and make it better)
    Parsley for garnish

    Saute' onion and garlic in olive oil and butter over medium low heat until soft and translucent.
    Add clams, bay leaf, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Simmer until clams are cooked and flavors are melded.

    Cook Linguine is boiling salted water.

    Add flour or corn starch to clam mixture, cook until thickened. Add cheese.

    Add cooked linguine to sauce, toss to coat.

    Garnish with parsley.

    Serve with a crunchy salad, nice white wine, and maybe some sourdough bread if you like. YUMMY!