Thursday, August 31, 2006

Historical Fiction

Whilst in Portland, I read a short book titled "When the Emperor Was Divine", by Julie Otsuka. At only 144 pages, it is difficult to believe that this novel can cover the subject of the Japanese Internment during WWII so well, so evocatively.

I've never studied this chapter in American history, other than perhaps as a footnote to our study of WWII. Reading this book made me think of how effective a class would be that incorporated the dry facts of history with novels, which really open one's eyes and imaginations to the experiences of those people who were alive at a particular time and place. What if, for example, while studying the Civil War, we read The Red Badge of Courage as well as our text book? And during the study of the depression and the dust bowl, we read "The Grapes of Wrath"? Reading these books later on, after studying the events in school, really gave me a greater understanding of the time. I think that is one of the true gifts of literature.

Back to the book. It is told in 5 parts, in terse, matter-of-fact language. Each part of the story is told from a different point of view, from the various members of a Japanese-American family who were taken from Berkeley to live in an internment camp in Utah. Except the father, who is suspected of being a traitor and collaborating with the Japanese government...he is taken elsewhere, to Texas. The language is so sparse, so carefully constructed, we never even learn the names of the various family members. Yet, even without their names, we identify closely with them, and we come to a better understanding of this horrible time. (Side note...our dentist was in one of these internment camps as a child, grew up and joined the military...but we haven't talked about it beyond that. It would be an interesting story to hear.)

From the book, on that period of readjustment after returning to their home in Berkeley:
We looked at ourselves in the mirror and did not like what we saw: black hair, yellow skin, slanted eyes. The cruel face of the enemy.
We were guilty.
Just put it behind you.
No good.
Let it go.
A dangerous people.
You're free now.
Who could never be trusted again.
All you have to do is behave.
On the street we tried to avoid our own reflections wherever we could. We turned away from shiny surfaces and storefront windows. We ignored the passing glances of strangers. What kind of "ese" are you, Japanese or Chinese?
I highly recommend this book. It's pretty amazing stuff.

Next in line, after I finish Mrs. Blackwell's memoir, is another book of historical fiction, which I picked up in Portland. It's called The Jump Off Creek, and it's the story of a widow who leaves the Midwest to settle in the mountains of Oregon in the 1890s. That would be an interesting read while studying westward expansion, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Heads Up

I've told you once before about my cousin, Tony, who is in prison, convicted of a murder that, tragically, he did commit. Tony has been in prison now for just over 30 years, and is a very different person than he was back then.

Tony's mom, my Aunt Lori, recently began reading my blog, and had emailed me to ask if I might print and mail Tony the 3 part story about when I met my father for the first time. I did so, and wrote him a letter as well. Upon returning from our vacation in Oregon last Monday, I found a letter from Tony, including some lovely pictures of his wife, children, and grandchildren. I was so happy to receive it. In his letter, Tony told me that he also has a blog, that is posted on a website that his wife maintains, Since Tony doesn't have internet access, has never actually been online, I'm guessing that he writes his posts out, and mails them to his wife, and she transcribes them into the computer and online for him. If you have the stomach to learn a bit about what life is like in prison, check out his blog. (It's not a fancy blog, just a button with the year, and you click it and go directly to his posts.) I think it's important that we understand the criminal justice system, and the repercussions of our treatment of prisoners. Whether we agree with the treatment they receive or not, it's not a bad idea to at least pay attention.

In that same vein, I'm going to be checking out the season finale of 30 days tonight. Remember the guy who ate nothing but McDonalds for 30 days, and then made the movie, Supersize Me about his experiences? Well, he has a TV show that is just wrapping its second season, and tonight's episode is about his 30 days in prison. That's one day for every year that Tony has spent behind bars. I hate to think of him there; hate to think of this being the rest of his life; hate to think of the life that he carelessly took from another man, and another man's family, way back when. The waste of it all, it's just too much. I hope I can stand it.


For those of you who read my blog, but maybe not Ted's or Lura's, I'm sorry to tell you that I lost my dog-in-law on Tuesday. (that sounds like she was my dog...she was my mother-in-law's dog, but not her dog-in-law, or Ted's dog-in-law, so that's why I phrased it that way.) Nietzsche was a very good girl, the kind of dog who you dog-sit, and then think, "hmmm....maybe we should get a dog," which is how we ended up with Genevieve.

Nietzsche, you will be dearly missed. You're such a good girl, and I'm so sorry that we didn't get to say good bye to you. Don't worry, either there are no balloons in doggy heaven, or you aren't afraid of them anymore.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Domo Arigato

I'm sleepy today. I'm kinda thinking that I would like to climb back in bed and have a nap. Working from home, with my 'office' in my bedroom, doesn't help matters any. Being stuck on my project and sitting here waiting for a coworker to get back to me with some info doesn't help so much, either. So, while I wait, I'll fill my time by telling you about the concert that Ted and I went to last night. You'll get his side on his blog, which will be full of interesting information about the band and all kinds of cool tidbits, I'm sure, so I'm going to be really lazy in my write up, OK? That way (hopefully) it won't feel like you're reading the same post twice, if you check out both posts.

Ted and his coworker, C-Lo, got free tickets to go see Styx at Wente Vinyards last night. Not only did they get free tickets, they also got backstage passes. How cool were we, running around with our little back stage passes? Very cool, THAT's how cool.

I've been to Wente once before, for a wine auction, which was very pretentious and boring, and they served us fois gras and veal steaks, which was pretty damned gross. Last night's concert came with dinner, and I was a little bit frightened that there may be some grossness served up. Happily, this was not the case. There was a big, beautiful buffet, with yummies for all, carnivore and herbivore alike. That was good sign number 1. Good sign number 2 was that you could get pretty decent wine (Wente, of course) to go along with your meal. Excellent. And can I say, for the over 35 set, Wente is definitely the place to go see a concert. Everyone is sitting at their tables, full of yummy food and wine, comfy and relaxed in a very pretty setting. Not the place to see U2 or anything, but it really was a very nice venue.

The bad news is that a backstage pass means you get to go back know, physically behind the stage. It does NOT mean that you get to go hang out with the band. Why anyone would want to go hang out and look at the band's instruments is pretty much beyond me, so I'm not sure what use a backstage pass is supposed to be. We did get to meet one of the members of the band before the concert, and it was pretty cute, because he was telling his dad to enjoy the show. Hey, rock stars have families, too! Who knew? So we thought we would get to meet the rest of the band at a little 'meet and greet' before the show, but apparently, "Styx doesn't DO meet and greets." Whatever. So we went back to our seats and had some more wine.

I have to tell you, though, that contrary to popular belief, I have never been to a concert with a buzz before. This was my first time, and since we had 3 bottles of wine between the four of us, I was a little buzzed. It was great. If you're going to go see a band with a bit of a buzz going, Styx is the perfect choice. They are just so....campy. They had a revolving platform holding the keyboard and the keyboard player, who also did the campiest of the Dennis DeYoung songs. At one point, after C-Lo and her partner-in-crime, J-Lo, had bowed out for the evening, they performed "Come Sail Away" (which is actually a different song than "Sailing" by Christopher Cross, in case you didn't know that...), the campy keyboard player with the pants so tight you could see his butt crack from WAY back jumped up onto the top of the keyboard, then over on top of the drums. Boy, he had a lot of energy. I have to admit, it was great.

Here's what I noticed, besides the fact that C-Lo was TOTALLY in love with that keyboard guy....when I knew a song, I was singing along, happy as could be. C-Lo would play keyboards on my leg to the song-intros, and I belted out "Too much time on my hands" with the best of them. But if it was a song I didn't know, or didn't care about, I was thinking, "Hmmmm...what should I pack in Maya's lunch tomorrow?" Ever have one of those moments?

Anyway, it was a great evening, and I'm totally not doing it justice. I hope Ted is feeling a bit more chipper this morning (I got up at 6 to do the school thing, and he got to be the one to sleep in, for a change, since he usually gets up at 4:00), so his post will have more details, like maybe the actual names of the band members, some of the songs played, that kind of thing. Me? That bed is looking pretty darned good right about now.

Oh, and those passes (plus the fact that Ted & C-Lo had interviewed JY a few months ago) finally paid off, and we got to meet JY after the show and snap a picture with him.

While we were talking to JY (I'm not sure why he goes by that instead of James Young, but I'll play along...) Ted teasingly told him that I was very disappointed that they didn't play "The Best of Times", and JY didn't even seem annoyed. I mean, he could have said, "I got you people tickets AND dinner, and played my heart out for you, and you just complain to me?" He could have, but he didn't. Whew. He just gave a stock answer about how they only have so much time, and they have SO many songs. He even apologized to me. But I'll tell you, it almost ruined my night to not hear them play that song for me. FOR ME. Luckily, Ted is good that way, and he called the radio station and requested that they play the song for me on the way home. So I got to sing along after all...

The best of times are when I'm alone with you
Some rain, some shine, we'll make this a world for two
Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime
We'll take the best, forget the rest and someday we'll find
These are the best of times
These are the best of times
Don't even TRY to tell me you're not jealous.

Oh...a big shout out to Eric and Cherry, who came and stayed with Maya for the evening, so we could go out and have fun...THANKS! You guys ROCK!

Happy Birthday Cherry!

Today is my dear friend Cherry's birthday! Happy Birthday, Missy!

Cherry is a wonderful, giving, (too) hard working, friend. She loves to cook for her friends, go out with her friends, hang out with her friends, whatever...just bless us all with her company. Thanks, Cherry, for being the wonderful person that you are.

Now, if you look at Cherry's post today, you'll see that we celebrated Cherry's birthday in style on Sunday at Fenton's Creamery in Oakland, where the smallest ice cream they serve is still as big as your head. Maya and Jackie shared a 3 lb. banana split...(she has the 'before' photo on her post)

But they finally had to admit defeat and go watch more ice cream being made in the 'factory' part of the restaurant.

Cherry, you are a wonderful friend, one who gives so much joy and fun to your friends and family. I feel very fortunate to have met you, and am proud to count you as my friend. Happy Birthday!

(Today will be a two post Tuesday...I have to write a few things about the concert I went to last night...but first I have to do some work and get the kid to school, etc. So come back later, OK?)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Our Amazing Dinner

Friday evening, Ted, Maya and I were invited to dinner with our friends, Pat and Beatrice, and their friend, Unita Blackwell. If any of my 5 daily readers are familiar with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, specifically the voters rights movement in the south, you may have heard of Mrs. Blackwell. I am not terribly familiar with that movement, though I admire the hell out of it, and I see a strong correlation between the struggles of the black people in the south, and their success, and the struggles of women and gays, as well as the anti-war movement. So to meet a pioneer in this movement is indeed a special treat.

Mrs. Blackwell has a new book out, detailing her rise from a sharecropper on a plantation in the Mississippi Delta, through the voter rights movement, to being the first female black mayor in the State of Mississippi. She traveled to China over 20 times working to normalize relations, and has received a Macarthur genius grant. In 1979, she participated in President Jimmy Carter's Energy Summit at Camp David. She later received a bachelors degree from Harvard, and her master's degree in regional planning from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Her accomplishments are many and great.

My dad was involved in both the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement of the 1960s. I bought him Mrs. Blackwell's book for his birthday a few weeks ago, and then borrowed it from him while we were in Oregon. I borrowed it so that I could read it, but also so that Ted could read it, because he wanted to interview her for his public relations radio program. I brought the book with us on Friday, so Mrs. Blackwell could sign it for my dad. :)

Overall, we had a lovely evening. Mrs. Blackwell told us stories from the 50s and 60s, and what it meant to be a black person in the South back then. How her grandfather was murdered in the cotton field for merely stating that he was innocent of something which he had been unjustly accused of, but he dared to talk back to a white man. How the white townspeople of her small community banded together to intimidate and harass the black townspeople, and thus keep them from registering to vote. How, with the help of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, she became involved in the movement to register black voters, and thus began her career in politics. Years later, she became the mayor of her small town (as she put it, "We'd be lucky if there are 500 people there"), and worked to incorporate the town and bring basic services like running water to the people there.

The most amazing thing, to me, was how open she is, how un-cynical, not bitter in the least. I don't know if I would have that grace. She appears to look things head on and to see them clearly, to see both the evil and the good in the world, and to retain her ability to keep the two distinctly separate. She is an amazing woman, one who has lived through an amazing period in human history - a time of pain and terror, and a time when Americans were learning the power of non-violent resistance. It was amazing to speak to her, and to hear how down to earth and genuinely friendly she is. We had a wonderful time talking to her.

And, by the way, the other company wasn't shabby either. We always enjoy seeing Pat and Beatrice, and it doesn't hurt that they are both generous and wonderful cooks. The food was delicious (pasta with homemade tomato sauce, wine, sliced tomatoes with basil, wine, bread, more wine, and homemade chocolate mousse.) Thanks Pat and Beatrice, for inviting us to your home, and including us in this wonderful evening. You ROCK!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday Morning Thoughts...

I just got up, looking at a few blogs, and the first two I came to had some interesting coincidences...

1st, my mom's blog talked about the sexualization of children, about how dressing young girls in adult's clothing, and visa versa, is dangerous because it sends very confusing messages to the world. This reminded me of when I was a girl, and I wanted to get my ears pierced...I wasn't allowed, because my mom said that earrings were a symbol of being a certain age and maturity, and so I didn't get them done until I was 16. I've put a lot of thought into when to allow Maya to have her ears pierced. I understand my mom's point when I was young, but I also look at a lot of other cultures besides our admittedly WASPy one, and so many cultures pierce ears at a very young age. Mexico, India, Italy, etc. So, I decided awhile ago that if Maya wanted to have her ears pierced, I would allow it. Thursday, she decided she wanted to have it done. Ted wasn't sure about this, he was thinking maybe she's too young, so he did a poll at work, and pretty much everyone had had their ears pierced when they were very young, and it was no big deal to any of them. So, yesterday, Maya got her ears pierced.


2nd, Black Belt Mama has put up a fitness challenge. It's a reasonable one, and also one with pretty decent timing...I went to my annual physical a few weeks ago, and Maya went to hers last week, and they both talked about getting enough calcium in your diet. In addition to that, when we were on vacation, I was talking to my step mom about weight bearing exercise, and how I would like to do some yoga at home to build my bone density, but I find it hard to make time for a one hour session, esp. since I also walk a couple of miles on most days, and I have a full time job, child, house, blog, etc. She said, don't try to do an hour of yoga a day. Do 10 minutes. Do some stretches, and then some downward facing dog and plank pose, and you'll be doing those bones a big favor. So, in response to BBM's challenge, I am going to start taking calcium supplements again, and do 10 minutes of yoga a day, both with the goal of toning and getting my body ready for menopause. Which isn't tomorrow or anything, but hey, I'm 40, and the sooner I get ready, the better off I'll be when the time comes.

My other thoughts so far are more in the category of, "why is it that I take my contact lenses out at night, and THEN go looking for my glasses?" I'm pretty blind, and um, that's not so smart. And, "Is there grape kool-aid in my new face cream? Kinda smells like it." And, I think I need to start wearing my mouth guard, because the whole left side of my face hurts again, which is what happens when I grind my teeth. And, "hmm...I went to the farmers market yesterday and got some nice tomatoes for bruschetta...wonder if I have time today to go get some more and make a nice pasta sauce?" I have to get school supplies for Maya, take her to the mall (she wants a back to school outfit for tomorrow) go to the grocery store for food, and celebrate a birthday tonight over ice cream (so superior to cake!) So, I think I'll get started, and leave this blogging business behind me for now. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Saturday Meme

Leave it to Jay to tag me for a good one. I'm not sure what happened to #9, though. You can listen to the Beatles in your head if you want to. (OK, if that's a confusing reference, think of John Lennon saying, "number 9....number 9.....number 9...." I know...I'm lame.)
1. Things that scare me:
Global Warming
Religious Fanatics
The thought of losing my family

2. People who make me laugh:
Autumn's Mom

3. Things I hate the most:
Politics and the way they work
Liver and onions
People who harm children

4. Things I don't understand:
Foreign languages (unfortunately)
The "isms" - Racism, Sexism, Ageism, Fatism (is that a word?), Defeatism
Fear of a great gay conspiracy

5. Things I'm doing right now:
Getting ready to take a shower
Thinking about the amazing dinner I had last night

6. Things I want to do before I die:
Learn to ride a horse well
Hold a grandchild of mine (no rush!)
Travel a lot more

7. Things I can do:
Cook yummy food
Choose good friends
Be a good mother

8. Things I can't do:
Play an instrument
Let go of old friendships (in my heart)
Sing well

10. Things I think you should listen to:
Your conscience/heart
Good advice

11.Things you should never listen to:
Drug dealers
Mean gossip
People who say there's something wrong with you because of who you are.

12. Things I'd like to learn:
To ride a horse well
To let go of things I cannot change
To relax more

13. Favorite foods:
Thanh Long crab
Good wine

14. Beverages I drink regularly:
Diet Coke

15. Shows I watched as a kid:
Land of the Lost
The Brady Bunch
Monty Python's Flying Circus

16. People I'm tagging (to do this meme):
Maya's Granny
And if you want to play anyway, even if you weren't tagged, please do. It's fresh, it's easy, and it's fun!

Thanks Jay!

Friday, August 25, 2006

It's The End of The World As We Know It....

Oh God, the day has come...We are truly in the final days, the days of apocalypse...and what proof do I have, you may well ask? Well, I'm truly ashamed, but within the span of one week, 1 WEEK I tell you, I have found myself agreeing with both George W. Bush AND She Who Must Not Be Named.

Before you pass out, or rush to have me committed to a mental institution (which, truly, I beg you to do should I ever TRULY agree with these spawn of Satan), allow me to say that I only agreed conditionally...

1st, on Monday, we were having breakfast at our hotel in Ashland, and they had the TV on to Bush's press conference...and he was talking about how we cannot just "cut and run" like the Democrats suggest, in our departure from Iraq. And I agree with that. As always, though, I have issues. 1st issue...WHY ARE WE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE??? Because W. lied to us about the weapons of mass destruction. Because he scared the hell out of Americans, to the point where many people thought, I sure as hell don't want to be nuked by that psycho Saddam, and he will clearly do that to his own people (or at least gas people who he is supposed to support, his countrymen, the Kurds), so why wouldn't he do that to us, who bombed the hell out of his country when our current president's daddy was in office? The problem, of course, is that Saddam didn't have that capability, and anyone who spent a bit of time looking into it could see that. At the same time we were considering attacking Iraq, though, we needed to be thinking about what if...what if we DO get into this war, what are the repercussions? What will happen there, and here, because of it? W. and his camp told us that the Iraqis would welcome our soldiers with flowers, democracy would prevail, and all would be well in the world. Has anyone else noticed that happening? Because me? Not so much. Now, I will admit to having a B.A. in International Relations, so maybe I'm savvy or something, but it sure seemed to me that a HELL of a lot of people outside of my IR cohort were saying, "This really ISN'T a good idea", and "This will start a civil war", and "Once we're in there, it's going to be REALLY hard to get out cleanly", and "If you think the radical muslims hate us now, just WAIT and see what kind of crap you're stirring up with this one." I'd like to take credit for being some kind of diplomacy genius here, but really, I'm not, and a LOT of people were saying that this looked a lot like Viet Nam in that is was going to be a quagmire, a situation from which it would be VERY difficult to extricate ourselves. So it' s not just me. BUT, how many DEMOCRATIC congresspeople voted FOR this war, either because they were fooled by the rhetoric, or they were afraid that their constituents were too afraid of the rhetoric, or because they were afraid of being called afraid...afraid of being called they didn't stand up and say, "wait....slow down...let's be sure this is right..." No, they voted for it. And now, they want to pull out, go home, and leave the people in Iraq to stew in this mess, to allow the terrorists to take over Iraq and continue to make it a hotbed for Al Qaida. Because Americans are sick of a war that we never should have started. Great. Now who am I supposed to vote for, if the Dems are fucking up this badly, and have been for years? It's not too late. Make a plan, not short range, not based on the November elections, but based on what really needs to happen. Which, unfortunately enough, is that we need to start talking to Iran and Syria about not going in and trying to divide this country up into fun little pieces. About actually negotiating with people that we don't like, in order to avoid a LOT more pain in the long run. Fun? No. But I'm hoping you didn't get into politics for the parties and beer. GROW A SPINE PEOPLE.


2nd, tonight, (last night by the time this is posted, but tonight when I wrote it...I know, I sometimes write the night before, but wait to post in the vein hope of getting just a FEW more comments on a previous post...DAMN you task me so!) I've had a glass or two of wine, and I'm getting ready for bed...I finished watching "Mona Lisa Smile" (pretty good...I'm a closet Julie Roberts fan...I know it's not cool) on FX, and I'm flipping the channels around. Who do I see? She who must not be named. She who injects herself with her own urine to stay painfully thin. She whose spit provides anti-venom for bites from rattlesnakes. And what is she saying? She's talking about the Democrats, and how if history is correct, they will take over the Congress in November...about how they are talking about how they want to shut down Guantonimo, but will not provide a reasonable plan to do so. AMEN. I disagree with her premise, which is that it should stay open, that the patriot act should stay in tact, and that it is a reasonable reaction to the attacks of September 11th. But should we discuss HOW to do these things in a responsible manner? Yes. Are we? Not that I have seen. She also mentioned that the CIA and the FBI were not allowed to have much contact before the Patriot Act, before September 11th, which was part of our problem. I'd sure as hell hate to start quoting HER for my facts, but actually, that sounds kind of familiar and true, and also, really really wrong. Maybe that part of the act can stay.

So you see? Numbers 1 and 2 on my list of people whom I would most LOVE to crap upon, maybe after eating a pint or two of cherries, and here, I find myself agreeing with them, albeit VERY conditionally. I think I need a shower. Anyone see Silkwood? One of those showers.

Oh, and while we're talking about politics, I had a thought the other day that chilled me to the bones and made me want to climb back under the covers. My mom has been saying for quite awhile now that W. and his bunch are all for trouble in the Middle East because it is one of the signs of the 'end of days', and they are working to bring about the Second Coming of Christ so they can be saved. So...what if the ecology is the same thing? What if that's part (not all, because, duh, GREED seems to be a mighty big factor) of the reason that they won't get behind the fight against global warming? What if storms like Katrina and weather like 115 in the Bay Area and all of that are just portents of their salvation? You have all of eternity, people, can't you just wait until you die or something? I think I need another shower. Or a drink. Or a drink in the shower. Want to come with?

Uh Oh...

I just saw this article. If signed, children under 8 need to ride in a booster seat, and children under 12 need to ride in the back seat. What's the big deal? Well, Maya's been riding in the front seat for a little while now...the Volvo doesn't have any airbags (too old), and on the Camry, we have the passenger seat pushed all of the way back. Ted reasoned that many small adults are in the front seat, so she would be OK. I read some reports that said that there is no proof that kids who have been harmed by passenger side airbags in the front seat were 'properly restrained', meaning, they weren't wearing their seat belts. Maya ALWAYS wears her seat belt. To be honest, I've never been completely thrilled about her riding in the front seat. But to legislate it, and give us a ticket if she rides in the front? Ugh. I'm not so sure about this.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ode to Forest Park

When we go to Portland, Maya's favorite thing to do is to hike in Forest Park. She told me that Forest Park is her favorite place on earth. This most recent trip was no exception, and happily, Ted was able to join us this time, and I think he may be hooked as well. For Maya and I to enjoy hiking is definitely saying something, because we are two girls who do NOT like to get hot and sweaty. Sadly, there is almost no way to hike around here without getting hot and sweaty, because there are simply not enough trees to keep you shaded. So the sun is beating down on you, and instead of marveling at nature and enjoying ourselves, we're cranky and want to go home. Not so much fun to be around. In Forest Park, which is about a block from where we stayed in Portland, you can hike for hours and hours without ever feeling the cruel rays of the sun beating down on your head. The canopy of old growth forest is beautiful and soothing. You cross paths with fellow hikers, runners, and lots of dogs. We love it.

This is the Stone House. Looks kind of like something from Blair Witch (well, not really, but kind of...), but it's just an old bathroom structure that succommed to fire in the 60s.

It used to be that while hiking in Forest Park, Maya and I would play role playing games. On one trip, Maya had recently finished the Catwings books by Ursula K. Le Guin (who lives in that same neighborhood, coincidentally). So we played Catwings. She was Jane, and I was usually a woman who finds her, though sometimes I was one of her brothers or sisters. On another trip, Maya was very into Buffy the Vampire Slayer (not sure where she picked THAT up) (wink wink), so we would play Buffy. That usually involved lots of vampires getting 'dusted', along with cool sound effects. (Thank goodness 90210 was off the air before these roll playing games started...I would hate to have to play Steve to her Kelly or something...since Steve only had two emotions..."I'm rich and I'm about to get some" or, "Oh crap, I think I have anal herpes"... I'm not sure I could have pulled that off well...)On our most recent trip, however, I discovered that Maya seems to have outgrown this kind of roleplaying. Instead, she enjoyed imagining what Forest Park would have looked like millions of years ago, in the time of the dinosaurs. She imagined what trees would have been there back then, which dinosaurs would fit in well with the foliage, that kind of thing. She imagined tiny liptiptidium (that's my pathetic phonetic spelling of what she's saying...I have no idea how to spell it correctly, but it's one of our (very) early ancestors, an early mammal that lived in the time of the birds, I think...I'm not terribly well versed in this stuff...) eeking out a living among the underbrush. She loved it.
There are many, many things to love about Portland. That much of my family lives there is a big one. That it is a big city with diversity and liberal ideas is another. That they have the best bookstore ever, and a lot of truly wonderful restaurants is yet another. They have a thriving music scene, and seem to have a lot of artists and creative people. The housing is (comparatively) affordable. A great city. And still, were we ever to move there, I have to say that I would try very hard to be able to afford a house within walking distance of Forest Park, because it may indeed be the best part of Portland.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Sesame Street

I have a couple of Portland related posts in is about the yummy and not-so-yummy restaurants we went to, one about books I read or bought about the beautiful world of Forest Park. But I had to stop and do this, because Issa and Mom-101 did it several days ago, and it will soon be too late to jump on the bandwagon. Stupid vacation.

So, this started on Mrs. Davis's blog, where she talked about popular culture influences you had as a child, due to the new season of Sesame Street starting on August 14th. She gave out a bunch of linky love on the 14th, but I was relaxing in Portland that day, and didn't do any REAL blogging, so I'm just behind as all get out. But I don't care. I'll play anyway. ;) I will tell you my favorites in a minute, but first I must take a moment to insert this picture of Maya at her surprise birthday party in Oregon last year, when she was turning 9.

This is Maya and my dad. My sister bought her "Where the Sidewalk Ends", which they have at Maya's school, but she didn't yet have at home. She stopped opening gifts for something close to 20 minutes, reading us poems and cracking up about her favorite ones. I was just amazed. I mean, for a 2 or 3 year old to get distracted by a gift and ignore the pile in front of them is one thing. For a 9 year old, I think it's another. So, if you don't have this book for your kids/nieces/nephews yet, get yourself to a local bookstore, and buy it quickly. :) They'll love you for it.

Another book to show her love of reading, is from when she was 2 years old. Her favorite book was Madeline's Rescue. She had it memorized, and would "read" it to herself, including French Accents for the speaking parts. Very cute. The time this picture was taken, she had fallen asleep reading. I've fallen asleep reading many a time, but I don't think the book has ever ended up on my face. :)

Now, to the meat of the post, Mrs. Davis's question:

What television, music, movie or book from your childhood are you excited about sharing with your own child?

When I was very small, I LOVED the Animal World of Thornton Burgess. I believe it is a collection of Old Mother West Wind stories, and it was given to me by my mom's friend, Kate, who signed it, "Aunt Katie". Growing up, I always thought I had a long lost aunt out there. :) She's not lost anymore, thanks to and a little bit of searching. She's even blogging, hers is "Hugging Aspens" on my blogroll. Anyway, I loved this book, loved the pictures, and I still have it in my collection. Am I excited about sharing this with Maya? When she was a bit younger, yes. At this point, I think she's outgrown a lot of these stories. But my mom bought them all for her, so she can read them anytime she wants to.

Another favorite of mine was Little Toot. I'm not sure what it was about that little tugboat, but I loved it, and if it weren't for the wisdom of my older brother, poor Samantha would have been named "Little Toot".

When I was 9, my mom thought I might like to read Farmer Boy, because of my love for horses. Thus began my love for the "Little House" books, and my interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder (I have several biographies of her...). I still use her books as a kind of barometer for life, which I'm sure is horribly annoying.

Next, my mom suggested I might like The Horse and His Boy, again, because I was one of those girls who LOVED horses. I fell in love with all of the Narnia books, and I still read them periodically. Maya has read most of them at school, and she really liked them a lot. Maybe not as much as I did, but a lot.

Last but not least, A Wrinkle In Time. Maya has already read this, and she really liked it a lot. I loved all of the Madeline L'Engle books...they showed me a world where families ate dinner together, cared for each other, fought for each other and for what was right. They were strong and sometimes conflicted. I loved that. In many ways it mirrored our own family, which a lot of pre-teen books do not. I mean, Beverly Cleary wrote about strong families, somewhat, but they were a different breed. The pre-teen books so often are 'issue' books, where the kids are basically trying to get away from their families. So it was nice to read some books where family was the haven. Then there was the science...which was so clear and poetic in L'Engle's hands. Love it.

TV Shows...well, Maya loved Sesame Street when she was little, especially Elmo. But for shows that I would love to share with her, she's kind of old for any of the shows I watched as a kid, except maybe the Muppet Show, which is ageless, or the Brady Bunch. :)

Music...I loved 2 albums growing up. I loved Free To Be, You And Me, which Maya has on CD, and now listens to sometimes. Not as often as I did, but she also has cable TV, 5 magazine subscriptions, a ton of books, and a Nintendo DS. The other album I loved was a record I would walk over to the library and listen to just about every day. It was people talking about the habits of wolves on one side, and the other side was wolf songs, and wolf pups. I couldn't get enough of that record. I don't know that Maya would be interested, though she is certainly interested in wolves. But she has DVDs and things that we didn't have back in the mid-70s. :)

So that's my list. Not very 'cool' stuff to be into, I suppose, but boy, these were the books and records that I most identify with my childhood. As Maya gets older, I look forward to sharing other books with her...but she's really old enough now for pretty much any 'kids' type book.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Convoluted Vacation Wrap Up

(This is Mt. Shasta, taken on the way home yesterday)

Hello Bloggy Blog Blog Blog, I've missed you so. I've posted, sure, but it's not the same as actually writing something NEW, and I haven't been reading my friends' blogs, and I haven't been commenting, and boy, I have a LOT of catching up to do.

Let me start by saying, I'm still Biff, because I'm thinking...One Week Ago Right Now...I was getting ready to go to Seattle...on vacation. Sigh. So, today I'll tell you what we did on our vacation to the Pacific Northwest. (Mostly Portland.) We left home and drove to Ashland, where we hoped to see a play, but we got a bit of a late start, and it being a Saturday in summertime, it may not have mattered anyway, because they were sold out. No worries. We went to dinner, and walked around a bit. I really like the feel of's such a pretty town. I do wonder if the locals get truly SICK of being such a tourist town, though, because aside from the college, I don't see any other real employer around there. Sunday after breakfast, we went to the Elizabethan theater so we could show it to Maya. She studied several Shakespearean plays last year, and they have a reproduction of the Globe theater there that's pretty cool. I wonder if the one in Orinda is as nice?

From Ashland, we drove up to Portland, where we checked into a beautiful hotel. Ted had booked a suite for us, so Maya would have her own bedroom, which was GREAT. We walked around downtown a bit, went to dinner (Shula's Steakhouse, but that's another post...) and went to bed. Monday we went to visit my sister, nephew, and new niece. :) Yay! New baby! She was so cute and wonderful, and my nephew has grown SO much since we saw him last. It was great to see how much he enjoyed having a big cousin to play with. :)

After visiting with them awhile, and stopping by my step-mom's yoga studio for a short visit there, we went to meet the family whose house we would be watching for the rest of our Portland stay. Wow, what a house. This place was HUGE. And beautiful. Probably built in the late 1800s or early 1900s, it was 3 stories, had 6 bedrooms and a yard that took Ted about an hour to an hour and a half to water. It was great. We did decide, though, that really, that's too big of a house for us. I could have happily lived with about half of that house. Then, it's built on a hill, so from the street level, it looks even MORE imposing.

Check out the size of the front door!

Happily, there is a less imposing back door, which also doesn't involve going up two flights of stairs to access. :) The best thing about the house, though, is how close it is to my dad and stepmom's house. Here's a picture from the upstairs window of the house we were can see dad's house at the top of the hill there, with the upstairs windows open. It was GREAT.

The house sitting gig also came with a dog, to help keep us from pining away for Genevieve. So we watched Tilly, a young golden retriever, who was a lot of fun. :)

Tuesday, we took a train from Portland up to Seattle, because Ted really wanted to see the Experience Music Project there. That gave us a chance to see my niece Chloe, who is almost 2, and her daddy. :) She was VERY cute. Maya is named for my sister, Maya, who is Chloe's mom. So Chloe called Maya, "Cousin Mommy". Way too cute.

The rest of our stay was taken up with visiting family, walking in Forest Park, eating yummy food, and just relaxing. I took a yoga class with my step mom that was level 2 Iyengar, whereas I'm level 1 whatever, and it kicked my butt. It was GREAT though. If you want to take yoga in Portland, you gotta go see her. :)

We went to visit my Grandma, who is suffering from Altzheimer's disease. She was doing better than I expected, which was a relief to see. Maya and her Grammy (my stepmom) went to a toy museum one afternoon.

We got to celebrate my nephew's 3rd birthday.
There was cake involved.

Overall, it was a great vacation, one that I could write about in boring detail for you all, or I could just say that it ended WAY too soon. The best part was just relaxing, seeing family, spending time there, getting to know the city a little bit better. Portland really is a beautiful city. Wish we had another week there. That would have been great.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Did Anyone Else LOVE This Show?

Boy, I used to love to watch "Land of the Lost" when I was 8 or 9...Saturday morning cheezy crap TV at its finest! I loved Holly, kind of wanted to be her.

Loved Cha-ka (Who, by the way, was NOT played by a member of the group, Sugar Ray, at least according to this article. I know, you're crushed. I happen to have it on good authority that Ted's friend's Matt's Wife's exboyfriend, the actor, was Cha-ka. And I'm totally kidding there. That's an inside joke that only Ted will get, because his friend and friend's wife don't read my blog.)

The Sleestack were TOO SCARY (OK, even then they weren't scary...just lame and really slow...but what about that ingenious time machine thing with the crystals? Anyone else think the Superman movie TOTALLY ripped them off there?)

And those pesky darned dinosaurs. What's not to love there? They never seemed to do any REAL damage, did they.

OK, that was probably my lamest post EVER. Sorry everyone. This is the last canned post, so all fresh and new from now on. Back Monday or Tuesday with some real posts and pictures of our vacation.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Food Meme

We're having a wonderful time in Oregon...spending time with family and relaxing. :) Not much time for the computer. I've posted a few posts that I had "in the can", but I'm running out of maybe I'll find time to write a bit about our vacation. No pics, though, because I'm not sure how to download them onto this computer, so you'll have to wait for that. I did finish another book, so maybe I'll write something about that in a day or two. Anyway, here's one of my last 'canned' blog posts, from before we left CA. :) I found this at Ally Bean's site:

How do you like your eggs? Sometimes scrambled other times over medium (what Maya likes to call, Sunny side down)

How do you take your coffee/tea? Coffee - latte. Tea, hot - with lemon. Tea, iced - with lemon.

Favorite breakfast food: Eggs and hash browns, or cold pizza.

Peanut butter: Smooth.

What kind of dressing on your salad? Marie's Blue Cheese Vinagrette, which was introduced to me by Tommy's Mommy.

Coke or Pepsi? Coke. It was definately Pepsi for the first 29 years of my life, though...when I got pregnant, it changed to Coke. Weird, huh?

You’re feeling lazy. What do you make? Cheese and crackers, or toast.

You’re feeling really lazy. What kind of pizza do you order? Eggplant, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, basil, and fresh tomatoes.

You feel like cooking. What do you make? Pasta, in one of its many beautiful forms.

Do any foods bring back good memories? Blueberry or apple turnovers (Peppridge Farms). My Grandpa would make them for me for breakfast when I spent the night. I always burned my tongue on them, but I didn't care.

Do any foods bring back bad memories? PF Changs -- food poisoning.

Do any foods remind you of someone? Lima Beans. I used to like the ones my Grandpa made.

Is there a food you refuse to eat? Internal organs of any kind.

What was your favorite food as a child? Watermelon.

Is there a food that you hated as a child but now love? Avocados. Also sour cream.

Is there a food that you loved as a child but now hate? Can't think of any. Things I might not want as much of, yes. Hate? No.

Favorite fruit & vegetable:, raspberries; green beans.

Favorite junk food: Ruffles Natural Potato Chips. Or Cheetos. It's a tie. Kind of depends on if I mind my fingers getting orange that day.

Favorite between meal snack: Anything salty.

Do you have any weird food habits? Sometimes at the movies, I dip my popcorn in my soda. It started as a way to eat popcorn without it sticking in my braces, and now I like the taste.

You’re on a diet. What food(s) do you fill up on? Salad. Fruit. Yogurt.

You’re off your diet. Now what would you like? Avocado burger from Manny's (in Stockton, CA).
How spicy do you order Indian/Thai? Fairly mild.

Can I get you a drink? Wine.

Red wine or white? I prefer red, but it gives me a headache, so white, please.

Favorite dessert? Ice cream or sorbet.

The perfect nightcap? Hmmm. Maybe a glass of chardonnay?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Thinking about books...

I just finished this book....and I have to say, it was pretty amazing. I am not a HUGE fan of the short story, though of course there are those certain authors that can make me eat those words. Alice Munro, for one, can suck you in and make you feel like you've just finished a novel in just a few pages. Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles sucked me in and drew me from one weird world to another in a short period of time. But overall, I kind of like the continuation of a full length novel. The feeling as I'm putting the book down, and the characters will still be there for me tomorrow evening...waiting for me to return to their world, so different from my own (or, in some cases, so similar to my own). That feeling of making friends, of wanting to slap them for doing something so stupid, so human, so real. These are hard things to bring into a short story, I think. Because you get to know them, start to care, and then the story is over, just like that. Time to move on to new characters, new challenges, new drama.

OK, back to Willful Creatures. I've been thinking about reading this book since January, when I finished another book by Aimee Bender, titled An Invisible Sign of My Own, which is NOT short stories, but was great. Willful Creatures is a book of very odd stories, very odd characters. For example, in one story, a man buys another, tiny tiny, man, and keeps him as a pet, in a birdcage (that's him in the picture, I'm assuming). Or the woman who had 7 potatoes in her pot that would not go away, and 4 of them ended up growing into her little potato children. Or the folks with the pumpkin heads who somehow gave birth to a baby with an iron head, steam and all. Here is an excerpt from The Case of the Salt and Pepper Shakers, a dual murder case, told from the point of view of the detective who is trying to solve the crime. The husband has murdered the wife (poison) and the wife has murdered the husband (stabbing), and they both lay down and died within a minute or two of each other.

Now, she could not have known she was poisoned when she knifed him, as he had chosen a poison that is silent and causes no suffering, and he had hidden the bottle somewhere very difficult to find, as we have not yet found it. In fact, their greatest difference was revealed through their choice of murder weapon, in that she wanted to make him suffer and be aware of her murderous inclinations, choosing the overt and physical technique, while he selected the secretive method, one of the few available where she would die without fully realizing what was happening. He perhaps was more ashamed of his loathing, and also he did not want her to feel pain. Their greatest similarity, however, was revealed in their choice of occasion, since each conceived of the exact month and moment of death fully independent of the other. Certainly that was something. And I imagine that as they lay on the carpet next to each other, one bleeding from the gut, the other foaming from the mouth, they saw something meaningful and linked in the eyes of the other. The nature of hate is as elusive as love's. I for one am just pleased they did not have children.
For me, the whole paragraph is well written, but that last sentence just did it for me. Much of her work is like that to me...I am reading along, thinking that in less capable hands, this story would come across as too clever, too precious. But in Bender's hands, in her mind and her words, it's just wonderful writing.

Oh...and, by the way, it just came out in paperback. :)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Michelle Selden Rocks!

And who is this Rockin' Michelle Selden, you may ask? Well, she's an 8th grader who lives in Livingston Parish, Louisiana. Why does she rock, you may ask? Because when faced with the somewhat insane policy of segregating boys and girls in her school district, because of how our brains work differently, she stood up and said, "Uh, Hello?" She got the ACLU involved, and they sued the school district on her behalf. From Salon's Broadsheet:
The school board made its initial decision based on impressively retro theories of girl- and boyhood. Among the sources defendants cited in the proceedings was Dr. Leonard Sax's "Why Gender Matters," which argues for the biological need for boys to practice "pursuing and killing prey," and girls to "practice taking care of babies." Sax stops short of calling for an end to all scholarly pursuits and a reversion to hunter-gatherer days, but he does suggest that these biological predilections should dictate playground behavior: Boys should be allowed to roughhouse; girls should not.
Also from Salon's Broadsheet, here is a quote from the letter that Miss (perhaps Ms.?) Selden wrote to the school board in her lawsuit:
"I just became certified as a scuba diver. I am a firefighter cadet, which is a junior volunteer firefighter. I have a purple belt in Shaolin Kung Fu. I don't know whether most girls would be interested in these things or not. I have done these things because I wanted to, whether or not the 'average girl' would want to."

I do understand that men's brains and women's brains are wired differently. Ted is reading this book about women's brains, which he found out about here, that goes into a lot of detail...not so much pointing out the differences between men and women, but just talking about how women's brains work specifically.

What is dangerous, however, is to assume that the way to teach children is to exaggerate these differences, to teach boys that caring for children is for women, and to teach girls that to be athletic is for men. Check out the lawsuit, if you're's pretty amazing stuff. One thing that struck me was not only that the program was so sweeping in its assumptions about boys and girls, about how they should be pigeonholed into these stereotypes, but that it was to be a district wide decision, meaning that if parents didn't like the program, they really didn't have anywhere else to go. Parents and students were not included in the making of this asinine decision, either.

When we decide that all girls need to be happy homemakers, and that their primary skill and interest is to care for children...that boys don't really like to read, and if your son DOES like to read, he needs to spend more time outdoors with 'normal' boys until he recovers...that girls couldn't possibly be interested in things like sports and science....that boys couldn't possibly be interested in caring for children, teaching, cooking, or other "female" pursuits, we are selling ourselves incredibly short, and setting ourselves up for a lot of depressed, unhappy children, both boys and girls. Depressed, unhappy adults, both men and women. It seems to be that our society has come too far in these last few decades, and we can't give it up under the ill conceived guise of serving our children's biology...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

That Seems About Right to Me...

You Are 64% Open Minded

You are a very open minded person, but you're also well grounded.

Tolerant and flexible, you appreciate most lifestyles and viewpoints.

But you also know where you stand firm, and you can draw that line.

You're open to considering every possibility - but in the end, you stand true to yourself.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Time for Bacation

We're off for a week of R & R in the Pacific Northwest, which will include a stop for dinner and a play in Ashland, OR, sleep overnight there, and then on to Portland to visit with the family, including my new baby niece! Hopefully we will see the beautiful Chloe and her family, too. Yay! We may have blogging access while we're there (we're going to try, so check back from time to time), but we may not (ACK! Can I survive without my blog? Without reading YOUR blogs? I don't KNOW!).

If you don't hear from me in'll know that I'm far away in the wilderness (Portland isn't really wilderness, but my dad lives near Forest Park, which is semi know, for a city and all.)

I'll miss you. Really. A lot. Don't do anything interesting while I'm gone. I'm not even kidding.

Friday, August 11, 2006

25 Peeps

Does anyone know anything about '25 Peeps'? It's this site that is used to promote your blog, and you can also use it to find other people's blogs. I found out about it at Sprigs, and thought, well, that might be fun, so I put my picture & blog in for submission. That's me up there, at the Sacre Coeur, on my honeymoon back in 1993, and the glamerous looking woman is Sprigs. :) So, with 25 Peeps, if people come to my blog and click the picture there, it gives me points, which keeps me on 25 Peeps. Then, since my picture (and link to my blog) are on the 25 Peeps page, I'll get new readers. See how this works? Of course, I think it would work a lot better if I weren't going on vacation tomorrow, leaving my blog lonely and I'm thinking I won't be on 25 Peeps for very long. But do me a favor, OK? Click the pic, go to 25 Peeps, check out a few other people's blogs, have fun. Maybe I'll even find a way to keep posting while on vacation...

Saturday Morning Update...I've been pushed from 25 peeps. Sigh. My moment of fame was fleeting...but actually, much less pressure now about blogging on vacation to keep people interested, so it's maybe a GOOD thing. :)

Fast Five Friday

Between terrorist plots, trying to get work all settled for while we're gone, and a million really boring details about laundry and so on before we go on vacation, my mind is braindead for some deep post. Perfect time for a quick, fun, breezy meme type thing. I got this from Mom Maam Me, and I guess she's done a couple of them in the past. :) Thought I'd copy her, just for fun. Feel free to do a Fast Five Friday if you wish. I was trying to decide which Fast Five to do, but I like them both, so I'm doing both. Then I added my own. Guess that makes it a Fast Fifteen? You can all tell I'm desperately going to miss my blog while I'm gone, and I'm just spewing all over the place, can't you? Here goes:

Fast Five #1
I wanna know:
1. What reading material is currently on your nightstand?
2. What jewelry are you wearing right now, or did you wear today?
3. What is the last beverage you consumed?
4. Are you left-handed or right-handed?
5. What's your cell phone ring tone?
Here are my answers:
1. Willful Creatures, a very strange book by Aimee Bender. And a big pile of other things that I'm planning on reading very soon. Maybe some on bacation. (Remember to say 'bacation' in an Indian accent in your head.)

2. Wedding ring #2, wedding/engagement ring #1, wedding bangles, bangle from Saudi Arabia that my Grandma gave me, pretty Gucci watch I bought off eBay, earrings my best friend who never calls me gave me for my birthday a couple of years ago, and my pretty flower necklace from Hawaii.

3. Diet coke. That's almost always true. I know, I have a problem.

4. Righty-tighty.

5. "Hello Moto" and vibrate. I don't really know how to change it to another tone, and I don't care enough to learn.
Fast Five #2
I wanna know:
1. Gum, mints, or Tic-Tacs? And what flavor?
2. What kind of shoes are you wearing?
3. Suri Cruise: real or imaginary?
4. What kind of entertainment do you listen to in the car -- radio, CD, talk show, or none of the above?
5. Did you ever want to change your name as a kid? If so, what was your favorite "new" name?
And here are my answers:
1. Gum. Probably Trident White, because I want teeth like Cherry, who naturally has "after" teeth, as in the teeth people want after they have their teeth whitened. Probably because she drinks no (almost no) teeth staining substances.

2. No shoes, because I work from home. But when I took the dog for a walk this morning, I wore these (scroll down a bit).

3. Suri is probably real. I'm with Mom Maam Me when she says it's probably because of vaccination, but also, I read somewhere that Tom's other kids didn't have to face the reporters for a year or two after they came along, and I think it's kind of smart of them. Perhaps the FIRST smart thing they've ever done. Completely inconsistent with the very public nature of their relationship up until now, but they're both freaks, so who cares.

4. NPR, rock music on the radio, or CD. Sometimes I think about books on CD or something, but I work from home, so there's literally NO commute (Unless you want to be picky about my use of the word literally, and say, "Hey, J, you're commuting from your bed to your chair....doesn't that count?" to which the answer is, "NO." I've been toying with the idea of getting one of those radio things that will let me listen to my iPod in the car, but only because of Bacation, and the fact that we're driving from the Bay Area to Portland.

5. I always wished my name was 'Elizabeth'. People often told me I didn't really look like a Julie, and that I looked more like an 'Elizabeth', which I took to be a compliment.
Now I've decided to add my own "fast 5" questions...
I wanna know:
1. Do you prefer rainy, misty weather, or hot dry weather?
2. Are you driving, or flying to Portland on vacation this Saturday? (You can change this to fit any city you want.)
3. What did you watch on TV last night?
4. What do you have at home from Netflix?
5. Speaking of movies, what do you recommend?
My answers:
1. Rainy, misty weather, probably 70% of the time. I'm not saying downpours here, but cool and overcast is nice.

2. We're driving, thank goodness, because even though it's 620 miles, it may be faster with the new restrictions, at least this weekend. And that's including our overnight in Ashland.

3. I started by trying to watch Little House on the Prairie, moved on to Sex and the City(network TV version), then Everybody Hates Chris. Finally settled on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Too funny. Then I watched some Sex and the City on DVD.

4. Our current DVDs are: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Duma, and Super Troopers.

5. I'm recommending Water. I talked about it here, and although it truly, truly broke my heart, there are images and moments that are stuck in my head, and I would like to see it again. It's available August 29th on DVD. (And Cherry, don't watch it on August 29, unless you want to spend your birthday crying...)
There. All done. Your turn. :)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Double Thursday Thirteen (Thursday 26?)

I was thinking the other day of things I would like to do if I had more money. Then I thought, that would be a good Thursday 13! So I daydreamed a bit, and started feeling kind of spoiled and selfish, and that I lead a pretty good I thought of days when I had much less, and I decided to do a SECOND Thursday 13 of things I would do if I had less money.

OK, so that's TWO Thursday 13s. I considered using one this week, and saving one for next week, but next week, I'm on vacation (I know, Biff again) and I don't know if I'll be able to get near a computer, and Blogger doesn't let you write them ahead of time and have them automatically post (THOUGH THEY SHOULD!), and by the time I get back from vacation, my head will be ready to explode with new exciting things to tell you all, meaning that I will have lost ALL interest in having less money; SO, I thought, I'll give it to you all right now. Whew. I do believe that's a run on sentence, by the way.

Thirteen Things I would do if I had more money:
1. Take another yoga class, so I had it twice a week instead of once a week.

2. Get my hair cut/colored every 6 weeks, rather than every 3-4 months.

3. Give more money to my favorite charities, over there on the sidebar.

4. Travel more. Depending on how much more money I had, maybe a LOT more.

5. Buy a bigger house. How much bigger depends on how much money, but I would love it if my office weren't in my bedroom.

6. Buy a hybrid car. It's hard to put your money where your mouth is when they are SO stinkin' expensive.

7. Pay someone to come in here and paint my house with pretty colors...instead of doing it ourselves and always using shades of white. You know, unless we get that bigger house I mentioned.

8. Custom cabinets in whatever house we're talking about. With cool drawers and hidey places for everything...I would love that.

9. Oooohhh...a housekeeper. I have several friends who have someone clean once a week, and what a luxury that would be.

10. Pay off my mortgage more quickly...make double payments. That always seems like such a smart thing to do.

11. Fix things as soon as they become a problem. Like a new stove (one where all of the burners work). New dishwasher (one that is energy efficient and QUIETER). New hot water heater.

12. If I got stinkin rich, I'd build a library at Maya's school, since they don't have one. It wouldn't be in place until she left, so it wouldn't embarrass her for it to be named, "The Asregadoo Library". I like that.

13. Flying lessons for Ted. He said it was one thing he wanted to learn to do someday, and it would be cool to get to do that.
Thirteen things I would do if I had less money:
1. Dye my own hair. I've done it before, and no, it isn't pretty. But neither is my natural hair color.

2. Buy a yoga DVD and quit my class. Which would suck, because I've tried this in the past, and I just don't get around to it very often.

3. Give up my evening wine habit. (sob)

4. Eat at restaurants less often.

5. Cut back on my diet coke habit. Maybe one a day would be enough.

6. Cut back on the giving to the worthy organizations over there on the sidebar.

7. Remove Maya from afterschool childcare. Since I work from home, that would be an easy way to save money. But she doesn't have friends that live close by us, so this is her only chance outside of recess to play with other children.

8. Shop at consignment stores. I've gotten some pretty good deals there in the past. They take more patience, but if you're broke, patience is something you have to learn.

9. Go to a cheaper hair salon. Maybe a beauty college. You're taking risks there, people, and that might be painful.

10. No more pizza on Fridays or burritos on Tuesdays for Maya at school.

11. Brown bagging it for lunch for Ted. (He does this a lot anyway, but it could be every day.)

12. Cancel our Netflix subscription. I know, that's not a LOT of money, but sometimes, every little bit helps.

13. No new books. Sigh. That one might hurt the most.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hospital Food

I read with interest this article about Kaiser's desire to change over to more locally produced, fresh produce in their patient care menus. I think this is a great idea...really, who could use good, healthy, fresh food more than folks on the mend?

Unfortunately, 'hospital food' reminds me of a story that makes my blood boil a bit. Last summer, my mom had surgery at UC Davis Med Center. The care she received was 90% wonderful. Her surgeon was wonderful, the nurses were mostly great, etc. However...when it came to food, I found them lacking. My mother is border-line diabetic, meaning she can control her diabetes through diet, and doesn't need to take medication for it. When she was in the hospital for her surgery, they knew of her diabetes, and yet, what did they serve her for breakfast? French toast, steeped in syrup. How is that appropriate? Idiots. However, that's not the worst part of the story. My mom was trying her hardest to take care of herself, and when presented with French toast in syrup for breakfast, asked if she might have something more appropriate for a diabetic. Oatmeal, perhaps. The nurse was gone for quite awhile, and came back with a packet of instant oatmeal, which she gave my mother. Did you catch that? A packet of instant oatmeal. No bowl. No spoon. No hot water. No way to eat it. She's confined to her bed, can't even get up to use the bathroom by herself yet, and the idiot nurse gives her a packet of instant oatmeal. That's as good as saying, I don't give a shit if you eat or not. See if I care. (I wonder if she was charged extra $$$ for that packet of oatmeal? Was she just supposed to open it and pour it into her mouth, and beg for water?) That still pisses me off. It exasperated my mom, but she had bigger issues to deal with, like recovering, so she pretty much let it go. Not so, me. I could stew on the stupidity of it all. The nurse was caring in other ways, and was perhaps overworked, as most nurses are, and probably had to rifle around in the employees' personal stash for the oatmeal to begin with, but could she not have either done better on her own than giving my mother an impossible solution, or perhaps, PERHAPS called the food service department and asked them for a more suitable meal?


Grandma's Famous Slaw

I consider myself fortunate in that I still have both of my grandmas. No grandpas left to speak of, sadly, but the women in my family tend to live a loooonnnngggg time. My mother's mother lives in Stockton, and my father's mother moved from Modesto to Portland last year. (We'll be seeing her next week...)When she lived in Modesto, we used to go visit her a few times a year, and she would sometimes cook lunch for us. On one such visit in 1994, she served us dried out chicken and cole slaw. The chicken wasn't anything to write home about, unless the folks back home enjoy reading about dried out chicken, but the slaw was a winner. Ted said it's his favorite cole slaw recipe. It's not REALLY famous, except with us, but maybe if you all try it, it could become famous.

Saturday, I made lunch for Maya that was so pretty I had to take a picture of it...grilled cheese, sliced oranges, cole slaw, and orange/strawberry smoothie/juice. The picture reminded me of Grandma Wells' cole slaw, even though the cole slaw in the picture was made from one of those bagged packs that you can buy in the produce section, with broccoli and carrots in it. I know, I'm a weirdo for putting a picture of cole slaw that isn't even the slaw I'm talking about on this post, but the sooner you get over that, the better. Anyway, here is the recipe for Grandma Wells' cole slaw, which is VERY tasty. Thanks Grandma!
Grandma Wells' Cole Slaw
1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 1/2 cups shredded white cabbage
1 Granny Smith apple, shredded (unpeeled, but cored)
Fruit Fresh to sprinkle on the apple
3/4 cup celery, minced
3/4 cup green onions, minced
1/2 cup slaw dressing
1 tsp mustard

"Several hours before serving, carefully combine all these to allow their flavors to blend most pleasingly."
It's interesting to me that she goes to all of the trouble to mince and shred, but still uses bottled slaw dressing. What gives this cole slaw a distinctive flavor, I think, is the green onion and the apple. Give it a try with your next bbq. Enjoy! :)

They're Tempting Me...

We're going on vacation in a few days, and this blogging. We don't have a laptop, and unless we decide to beg use of my dad's computer (which isn't beyond the realm of possiblity, but might be seen as sort of rude...) or we shell out $$$ at an internet cafe (also not beyond any possibility realms, I hate to admit...), we're going to be incommunicado with the bloggy-verse. Which is just horrid to me. Here I was, minding my own business, and then I fell in love with blogging...sigh. And, just to taunt me, my spam mailbox is full, FULL of offers like this one, test drive a laptop, keep the one you want....come on J, you know you want to...all the cool kids are doing it...I resist, hit delete...think of the things we'll do on vacation that have nothing to do with electronics of any kind...sigh.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Stupid Human Tricks

Cherry and I were discussing the time I murdered a salmon in Alaska...I was telling her that my SIL and I hit the fish in the head with a rock, hoping that would be kinder than leaving the poor fish to flop around and suffocate in the open air. This brought up the topic of suffocation for some people like to suffocate themselves just to the point of almost losing consciousness, because it gives them a high.

This reminded me of a very stupid trick my girlfriend Neva and I used to do, when we were in the 6th or 7th grade. I don't know where we got the idea, where we heard of doing this...maybe at a pajama party or something, but when there's nothing on TV and it's too hot to go out and play? Let's just kill a few brain cells, 'K?

Here's what we would do. I would bend at the waist, with my hands on my knees, and hyperventalate until I felt light headed. Then I would quickly stand up straight against the wall, with my arms crossed in front of my chest. Neva would then push my arms into my chest, forcing me up against the wall, and expelling all of the air out of my lungs, until I would pass out. Then it was her turn. Usually we were unconscious for so little time that we would just kind of slump over, but once I slid down the wall and scraped up my back, kind of like rug burn. Even though you were only out for a moment or two, I remember having long, vivid dreams, and waking up feeling spacey and like I had been out for hours.

Now I look back at this, and I think of the things that could have gone wrong, how we could have done serious damage. (Hey, this was before I tried taking Latin and French....maybe I killed my foreign language brain cells!) How we could have died due to our supidity. How incredibly stupid we were. And I hesitated to even tell you all this dumb story, because my mother reads my blog. And even though I'm 40 years old, and an adult, I don't want to get in trouble. But, my mom lives about a thousand miles away from me, and has surely done some really dumb things in her life, so she probably won't kill me. Plus she doesn't want Maya to grow up without a mother...unless she's planning on replacing me with a smarter one...

I wonder...does remembering these stupid things in my past make me more likely to be an overprotective parent, or will it lend me the grace to not kill Maya when I hear about her stupid human tricks someday?

Monday, August 07, 2006

How To Be Annoying....

Back in my sordid days as a front desk clerk at a fancy hotel in SF, (OK, they weren't really sordid...I just say that to give myself street cred) I had a VERY annoying coworker whom I shall call Biff, because, well, his name was Biff. Really, his name was Jason, but he went by Biff. Why anyone with a perfectly good name like Jason would go by Biff is beyond me. Maybe there were too many Jasons in the family, and that was his family's way of telling them all apart. Maybe they read too much Superman. (Wasn't there a character named Biff in the Superman comics?) Anyway, in the months and weeks leading up to Biff's vacations, he would periodically put out these loooonnnngggg sigggghhhhhss... and he would say, "Only 25 more days until my vacation...." and then tell you the same boring details about his vacation. Never the interesting type of details like exotic locations he was going to see, or family he would visit, or anything like that. No, he would talk about what time he was going to have to get up to make it to the airport on time, and how it was 25 minutes earlier than he would USUALLY have to get up, and he wasn't sure if he should set TWO alarms instead of one, to make sure he would wake up, because, you know, it was 25 MINUTES EARLIER THEN HE USUALLY GOT UP. This would go on, with him talking about this ALL FRICKIN' DAY, every day, for the month before he went on vacation. I've got to tell you, we were all SO happy when he was gone. Then, he would come back, and would he tell us fabulous details about his fabulous vacation? No. He would put out those same loooonnnnngggg siiiggggghhhhsss and tell us that this time last week, he was on vacation. And he wished he were still on vacation. Believe me, so did we. Then the countdown would begin to the NEXT vacation. It was endless. Maybe his vacations were spent hooking-up with strangers in some secret locale, and that's why we never got any INTERESTING details, I don't know. But the pain was pretty much constant when you were working with Biff.

All of this is my way of telling you that we're going on vacation in....5 days....and in my mind? I'm Biff. I'm definately counting down....

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Our Weekend So Far

Yesterday, Maya had a pretty cool art class, where they got to learn some cartooning skills from a Pixar animator. She really liked it. Ted and I took the opportunity to go see Scoop, which is the newest Woody Allen movie. Ted LOVES Woody Allen. I like him OK, but not like Ted does. That's ok, I'm game for a good movie now and again. ;) At one point during the film, however, I discovered that my husband has become an old man. I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but the evidence came forward when Woody Allen was asked what his religion was...he said ""I was born into the Hebrew persuasion, but when I got older I converted to narcissism." Ted's reaction? He clapped his hands together, twice, slowly and silently, just like an OLD MAN! Try it at home. Try to think how an old man would do it...that's exactly what happened. The joke was funny, but Ted's reaction was funnier. After the movie, we stopped to get some geriatric products (I can't think of any funny ones right now...fill in the blanks please...), then we picked Maya up from her class, came home and made a lovely dinner, after which we watched The Manchurian Candidate. I had never seen it before, and I have to say, it was really good. I knew a bit about it going in, but not the full details, and it was pretty gripping.

This morning we woke up late (LOVE weekends), went to breakfast and a dog walk, and then came home for awhile. Then Maya and I went to get pedicures and manicures, which felt GREAT. When I get a pedicure, I like to read crappy magazines, and eat crappy food. For my magazine, I chose the August 7 Star Magazine, which had a very compelling picture of Shannon Doherty before and after bad plastic surgery right there on the cover. As a huge fan of 90210, of course I HAD to buy it. :) (As a side note, I tried to find a link to the picture for you, on the Star website, and I couldn't find it....went looking elsewhere and found that Shannon is suing them for their rudeness and false allegations. OK, maybe not for the rudeness...) Wasn't a very interesting magazine article, but then again, they never really are. For my crappy food, I had to try the new Avalanche bar, which I've been looking for ever since my blog friend Ally Bean dissed them on her site. I agree with her in principle...why take a good thing and mess with it. But in reality, taking a Payday bar and covering it in chocolate was MIGHTY tasty. Maya had a triple chocolate drumstick, so we were both pretty liquored up on sugar at that point. For our colors, Maya chose a great orange, while I went with a bright pink. I purchased some callus remover that they swear will work on Ted's feet, so he'll be getting a home pedicure later this week. I'm afraid it will mess up my nails, so he'll have to wait until the polish chips at least a bit, which really could happen at any moment. Sigh. I miss my fake nails, which held to polish so well. Oh well.

Now I'm thinking it might be time for a snooze on the sofa. All of this doing nothing is wearing me out. Then I'll make dinner (spinach gnocci, I'm thinking), and chat with my mom on the phone.

Hope your weekend has been wonderful thus far as well!