X Marks the Spot…

(image found here)

Almost finished with my April NaBloPoMo letter theme…we’re nearing the end of the month, and the end of the alphabet. I was thinking about what I could write about with the letter X. Hmmm. There are possibilities, of course. There’s the X-Files, X Rays, X Games, Xylophones, Xenophobia, and the band, X. There’s the X Box, Generation X, and X-Mas. The possibilities are, well, not endless, but there are a few. But none that really float my boat, you know what I’m saying? So, instead of writing about a tv show or a concept or a disease or medication or instrument that starts with the letter X, I will instead make a Thursday 13 out of things that I like that have the letter X in their name, OK? (That was a crappy, awkward sentence, but you know what I mean, right? Here goes.

  1. Sex. Let’s just get that one out of the way, so you can all tee-hee and be all Beevus and Butthead about it. “heh heh…she said sex”. Yes I did, so what. If you’re parents didn’t have sex, you wouldn’t be here, so shut up about it.
  2. xoxo. I mean, what’s gonna be wrong with hugs and kisses, right?
  3. Fox. Genevieve has a foxy little face, and it’s very pretty.
  4. Beaux. I mean, when I was dating, way back when. I don’t have any beaux now, unless Ted still considers himself that way. 😉
  5. Text. Not so much in the form of a text book, because my experience was that most of those pretty much suck. But the written word is pretty awesome, and I couldn’t blog without it.
  6. Roux. Hey, it’s pretty handy in a lot of recipes, so a little flour and butter ain’t a bad thing.
  7. Exercise. I especially enjoy walking the dog, swimming, hiking, riding my bike…
  8. Exavier. My 14-year old second cousin. He’s at a hard age, stuck between being a boy and being a man, and I think he’s handling it pretty well.
  9. Excellence. In so many things. Food, clothing, craftsmanship, company, film, music, etc. To do something with excellence is a wonderful thing.
  10. Exuberance. Along the same line as excellence, to feel or witness exuberance is one of the real pleasures in life.
  11. Experience.
  12. Xanadu. OK, I’ll admit it. I LOVED the soundtrack when I was a kid. So what?
  13. Mexican food. Mmmm. We had enchiladas for dinner last night. I also love guacamole, fajitas, carnitas, margaritas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, salsa, and so, so much more. Now I’m hungry.

J likes…

In keeping with my NaBloPoMo vow to travel sequentially through the alphabet, stopping at each letter at least once for a post, I’ve decided to make a Thursday Thirteen today, of things I like. None of these are going to be deep and profound, I’m afraid.

You all already know that I love my family and friends, and kindness and justice and gratitude and honesty and butterflies and NPR, right? OK, so we’re going a bit more shallow here. This is just things that make me happy if I happen to have them around, things I notice that I like. And I apologize in advance, because this post is going to switch back and forth between the first and third person a lot. J likes good grammar, so I know how annoying that can be.

  1. J likes horses. I used to think I wanted to be a jockey, or a vet. But I got to be too tall, and too heavy, to be a jockey, and I’m too squeamish for the vet thing. And my love for horses is kind of abstract, because while I think they’re perfect and beautiful and can commune with their people, and while I think their noses are soft like a baby’s butt, and the spot up under their mane where it meets their neck is soft and hard in a most delicious manner, and they have the prettiest faces (esp Arabians), I don’t spend my spare time or money doing anything with horses. It used to be that I didn’t have enough of either. But truth be told, if I were as passionate about horses as I used to be, I’d be with them somehow. Still. I like them a lot.
  2. J likes potato chips. Probably too much. Lately I’m into the Kettle Chips, Salt & Pepper variety. I tried them when we were in Oregon over Christmas, and wow, are they addictive.
  3. J likes to read. I truly enjoy getting all sucked into a story, and feeling like I know the characters. I have sat down to write fiction once or twice, long ago, and it’s not as easy as they make it look. Kind of like athletes. They make it look easy because they work at it. I love the fruits of their labor.
  4. J likes to swim. But I don’t really like to deal with make up after a swim, and washing hair, and all of that crap. So I don’t swim as often as I should, considering we have a heated pool right in front of our condo.
  5. J likes Tuna Tartar. Especially the way Cherry makes it. And how they make it at Va de Vi, a restaurant here in town. Mmm. Raw tuna.
  6. J likes seeing all of the flowers blooming and the warm weather of spring. (There are rumors that it could be in the mid to high eighties Friday and Saturday!)
  7. J likes the changing colors on the trees and the crisp weather of Autumn.
  8. J likes going to the movies and eating popcorn.
  9. J likes chardonnay. Probably too much.
  10. J likes vacations. Hawaii, Oregon, Tahoe, Monterey, wherever. Love being on vacation. Especially if we beat the odds and no one gets sick.
  11. J likes cooking using her new knife and dutch oven. I’m SO glad I got them.
  12. J likes late summer fruits and veggies. Esp. tomatoes. Mmmm. Tomatoes.
  13. J likes blogging. Probably too much.

13 Things about Anchorage

I’d never been to Anchorage before my recent 2 week stay. I wish I had been there under circumstances that would have allowed me to get to know it a little better. I thought I might be able to come up with a Thursday 13 about Anchorage, at least about my trip there, and not have any of it be sad hospital things. Let’s see how I do.

  1. I have a relative in Anchorage, who I don’t think I’ve met before! How wild is that? My mom’s father was divorced before he married my Grandma, and he had two children from his first marriage. So my mom’s sister, Lori, has 5 kids, one of whom is Dale, who lives in Anchorage and came to visit one afternoon. It was really nice to meet him (perhaps we met when we were living in Fairbanks, though neither of us remember it, so perhaps not), and to hear stories from his side of the family. They lived on the old homestead before we did, and perhaps for a bit again after, and he caught me up to date on the fate of the old place. Short story: sawdust as insulation is a bad idea, as it is a fire hazard. Nonetheless, the land is still in the family, though there’s no structure there right now. It’s also pretty nice to know that there’s family there in Anchorage to visit my mom and keep her from getting too lonely.
  2. I have a bloggy friend in Anchorage as well! The lovely Michelle from Scribbit came out one day and took me to lunch at the very Alaskan Moose’s Tooth, a local brewery and pizza place. At that point I was very excited to just get away from the hospital, and would have been happy with McDonald’s or even a grocery store I think, but she showed me a good time, with lively conversation and a charming wit, and of course, very yummy pizza. Very much appreciated, Michelle, thank you. 🙂
  3. There’s a winter carnival in Anchorage, which happened to be going on right when I was there. Sadly, I didn’t get motivated enough to get out and see any of it in person, but it was still fun to read about it in the paper and find out what Alaskans think of as fun winter activities. There was Running with the Reindeer, reindeer sausage eating contests (held right after the running, funnily enough), outhouse races, and of course, dog races. Looks to have been a good time.
  4. The mountains are sure beautiful there. I couldn’t see the water from where I was, but there was a beautiful walk between the hotel and the hospital (indoor) with large picture windows framing the view of the snow covered landscape, and it was heartening to see the beautiful mountains every morning and evening as I walked back and forth.
  5. Ice is slippery. I kind of thought that I was slipping more than other folks, because I’m from California where we don’t have to deal with it too much. But one of the nurses at the hospital said that quite a few people had come in with broken bones, due to the weather warming up (melting the snow) and then getting cold again, making that snow melt into hard frozen slippery stuff.
  6. Coming from the Bay Area, the local news was a crack up. The first few days I was there, there was a warming trend, with temperatures reaching the high 30s and even low 40s at one point. The weather folks on TV were not happy about this trend, as it makes things harder on the dogs in the dog sled races if it’s too warm. So they kept saying they were hoping for cold weather before Rondy (Fur Rendezvous, the winter carnival) and the start of that very famous dog sled race, the Iditerod. When one newscaster dared to pipe up and say that he kind of liked the balmy weather they were having, he was disparaged with a scornful “Wimp!” from his colleagues.
  7. Cheating a bit here, because this is specific to the hospital. Providence Medical Center, where my mom is, is a Catholic hospital. Because it is Catholic, and the hotel where I stayed is also Catholic, there are crucifixes hanging on every wall. I noticed that rather than the sad, dying Jesus that most crucifixes seem to portray, the ones in the hospital and the hotel seem to be ascending already, with a spirit of great joy. Good move for a hospital, I gotta say.
  8. Walking around Anchorage, I noticed moose droppings in the snow, but I didn’t see any moose tracks in the snow.  How does that happen?  Probably just that I wasn’t looking very closely.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see any moose wandering around.  People were shocked that I didn’t see any, since they’re supposedly everywhere, but I didn’t.
  9. In a true glimpse of what I would consider white trashy, one day while out trying to get some exercise and fresh air, I was frightened off by some scary looking dogs up on a roof.  I mean, who puts the dogs up on the roof?  Kinda trashy, right?  Anyway, I was scared and turned around.  They probably wouldn’t jump off of the roof and attacked me, but who knows, why take a chance. Right?
  10. There was this goofy commercial on TV, which I tried to find for you on YouTube, but I couldn’t find it.  It was this old guy who owns furniture stores, dancing along like a total dork to the totally dorky song for Fur Rondy.  Gosh, I wish I could find it on YouTube.  You’d have a laugh, I promise.
  11. One day I went to lunch at TGI Fridays, and walked back to the hotel, and stopped in a Fur Exchange store.   Growing up in Fairbanks in the early 70s, even animal lovers saw that fur trapping was a very traditional way of life, and fur lined jackets and so on weren’t only for the rich and famous.  They weren’t cheap, but they weren’t really the status symbol they are in the lower 48.  What do I know, they might be casual in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but in California, they’re kind of a big deal.  Anyway, I stopped at the store, and walked around between all of the fur and ivory based tourist items, including Eskimo yo-yos, gloves, jackets, dolls, jewelry, etc.  Some of it was beautiful, and I started to think….what if….but then my animal loving, tree hugging, commie pinko lefty sensibilities took over, and I left without making any purchases.
  12. I found that while walking around, I couldn’t get the song out of my head, Anchorage, by Michelle Shocked….”Leroy says Hello…”
  13. I’ve kind of run out of steam getting to 13…all I can say is that I was struck by the friendliness of the people there, from the checker at Fred Meyer to the Thrifty van driver who was born in Hawaii and has lived in Alaska for the last 15 years or so, and joked that living in states 50 & 49, he guessed he should move to the 48th state when he gets too old to deal with the ice and cold in Alaska.  I think that’s Arizona, so I hope he’s ready for some serious heat.

My Fairbanks Life

I recently found a new bloggy friend, Theresa from My Fairbanks Life. I found her through Michelle at Scribbit. They’re both Alaskan bloggers. Michelle lives in Anchorage, and Theresa lives in Fairbanks, which is where I spent 5 years as a child. Hearing about the cold snap they’re having right now (I just checked yahoo weather, and they’re saying it’s -43 F right now) put me in mind of some of my own memories of Fairbanks, and the time that I spent there.

I had intended to do this as a Thursday 13, but didn’t get to it until late. So it’s a Friday 13 I guess. Anyway, without further ado, here are 13 things about my time in Fairbanks, Alaska.

  1. When we first moved to Alaska, it was either 1969 or 1970…I think 1970. We had family who were homesteading outside of Fairbanks, and had a family emergency that called them back to California. The rules of homesteading say that someone has to live there a certain percentage of the year, so they were looking for someone to stay there, and my mom was looking for a place for us to live, so she decided to try homesteading. So there we went, my mom, all of 27 or 28 at the time, and her 6 and 4 year old children, out in the wilds with no running water, no phone, a sled team of lovely Samoyeds, and a Jeep Bronco that had survived the flood in Fairbanks a few years earlier, and gave my mom nothing but grief, usually breaking down on payday. I don’t remember a lot about the homestead itself, except that it was small, and had electricity…I remember watching Wonderful World of Disney on the little black and white TV.
  2. I remember that we never in our time in Fairbanks had a key to lock our door. My mom said that while we were out on the homestead, if we had locked the door, we might come home to find someone who had run out of gas or somehow wandered by, frozen on our doorstep. (You can see how this could happen when you think of it being -47 right now…) So there were times when we would come home, and someone had indeed come into our house, started the pot-bellied stove (which meant the house was warm! Yay!), and maybe eaten some food. They would leave a note, and perhaps some money, or perhaps the next time they were out our way, we would come home to find the house warm again, and some groceries.
  3. Without running water, we used to shower at the University, which wasn’t too far away. I think it was between our house and town, actually. We used to ride into town in the mornings, and eat breakfast in the car. Breakfast was often oatmeal in one clear plastic cup, and hot Tang in the other plastic cup. Mmmm. Oatmeal and Tang have such cozy memories for me. Not that I’ve had Tang in the last 30 years or so, but if I did, I’ll bet I would feel cozy.
  4. My mom had a gun, as any person living out in the woods with bears and moose ought to have. She used it to shoot holes in the ice in the creek that ran by our house, for water to wash the dishes.
  5. We had a cow moose and her calves visit us one summer. We had a bear visit us another time, and it ate the food meant for the dogs. I’m not positive, but I think we had to have the bear shot, because it wasn’t likely to forget where to find all of that yummy food.
  6. Eventually I suppose my mom tired of living the rough life (or maybe the family came home from California, I’m not sure), so we moved into town. Our first place was a basement apartment. If you’ve never lived in a basement, with only tiny windows way up high to let in any light, in an environment where the sun pretty much hides for a few months of the year, I’ll save you some trouble. Don’t. This was the place where I boldly told the teacher at my hippy private school (Willow Ptarmigan) that we didn’t have enough money for a Christmas tree, so they sent me home with the top of one on the school bus. It was still 4 or 5 feet tall, and it had frozen solid, so as it thawed, the needles fell off. You could hear them falling off. By the time Christmas rolled around, the tree was completely bald. The bus driver was funny…he wore one of those really puffy red ski coats, and used to make chicken noises to make us laugh. “Who let that chicken on the bus?” He’d say, “brack brack brack brack BRAAACK!”
  7. After we left the basement apartment, we moved to a place that I don’t think is there anymore. It was on the corner of 2nd and Cowles, and here’s a picture:
    Antler Manor
    My mom named it Antler Manor, and if you look closely, you can see the moose antlers above the door. We loved that house, and would probably be living there still, but one of the hazards of renting is that if your landlord likes to gamble, and perhaps puts his property up in a game, and loses, well, time to move. There was a church next door to us, which eventually bought the house and land, and tore it down to expand their parking lot. 🙁
  8. The church was where I learned to ride my first bike. My brother’s old hand-me-down, which when he got it, it had training wheels, but those had been left behind in some previous move, so I got to learn without. Which was mostly fine, I was a tough kid and didn’t so much mind falling down. I was very determined to learn, and since we had only 3 channels on TV anyway, there wasn’t much else to do. One horrid time, though, I fell and smashed my hand between the handle bars and a railing at the church. OUCH! My finger turned all kinds of disgusting colors, and swelled up to where it looked like it was going to pop like a sausage, but nothing was broken. Just a very bad bruise.
  9. We used to go to Alaskaland in the summer. Alaskaland was a park celebrating the history and culture of the area. There were musk oxen, and we would collect tufts of their hair from the fence, where it would come off when they were shedding (molting?) in the spring. It was soft, and we had ideas of knitting something out of it, I suppose, but since that would mean making it into yarn first, and I didn’t know how to knit, I don’t think we ever did anything with it. Alaskaland had a big paddle wheel boat that had that song, “The Entertainer” on a continuous loop. Right outside of the area with the boat was a little ice cream shop, where they would give you broken cones to feed the ducks if you asked nicely. If you sat very still, and were very patient, the ducklings would come to get the ice cream cone, and you could hold them in your lap. I loved that. Not so smart to try with geese, however.
  10. One year, my grandparents came to visit us, and we took a ride on an actual moving paddle wheel boat. I was, at that time (oh, who am I trying to kid, some things do not change) a champion napper. So I got bored with the scenery or something, and decided it was about time for a little snooze. At that time, I used to love to find hidey hole type places for my naps, my favorites being under tables. Under the dining room table, napping, while family was sitting around talking and laughing, was a very cozy napping place for me. So, off I went on the boat, looking for a cozy spot to nap. And I found an empty room, with a piano in it, and decided that right under the piano looked like a great place for a nap. So snooze away I did. In the meantime, people started coming in and sitting in chairs in front of the piano, and then a pianist came in and started playing music, none of which woke me up. I finally awoke to my frantic mother, who had been looking for me for awhile, and was ready to have the river drug (dragged?) for my poor lifeless body. She hadn’t seen me under the piano when she came in earlier, because of the people sitting there, blocking the view. I think the people in the audience assumed that my parents would know where I was, or were others in the crowd themselves, and so didn’t think to mention to anyone in charge that there was a little girl snoozing away while tunes were played right over her head.
  11. SamanthaMy doggie, Samantha. I’ve written about her before. When we moved to Antler Manor, one of our roommates had two puppies, and gave us one. That was Samantha. She was a gift to Richard and me, but I soon got tired of having to share her, and bought Richard’s half stake with my Christmas money. Best purchase ever, and I think he was happy, too, because now all of the dog crap was my responsibility. Samantha was the kind of dog I think you only come across once in a lifetime. She was so patient and kind, she let me climb into her crate to watch her give birth to her puppies. She let me put her in my Easter dress. She let me do whatever the heck I wanted to/with her, and loved me unconditionally. I had a dream about her the other night, not really about her, but whatever the dream was about, she was with me, and I woke up feeling like maybe Samantha was my daemon, my animal soul friend like in The Golden Compass. She had two litters of puppies while we were in Fairbanks, one of 14, and one of 13. A few were stillborn, and one got run over, but still, there were a lot of puppies. So I’m guessing there are some decedents of Samantha running around Fairbanks to this day, liking people and being good girls and boys.
  12. The year after we attended Willow Ptarmigan, and didn’t really learn too much, my mom decided to home school us. This didn’t work out very well, as the books she was required to order through the state didn’t come until after Thanksgiving, and my mom was working 2 jobs at the time. I do remember doing a report on Peru, though, and that for PE, we were going to stomp down the snow as flat as we could in the back yard, then pour water on it, making an ice skating rink. We had a friend who did this, and it turned out great. Well, stomping down snow is exhausting, and we were only 8 and 10 at the time, so we only got a little bit done each day. The night before we were to stomp down our last segment, it snowed. Snowed enough that it looked like we hadn’t ever started the project. That was the end of that. Between the year at WP, and the year at home, it was decided we had missed a bit, and so we were held back a year when we moved to California. Which is why I decided to graduate from High School early, because otherwise, I would have been 19 1/2 when I graduated. No thanks.
  13. Am I really at 13 already? Is anyone still reading this novel? Crazy. After we left Antler Manor, we moved in with my mom’s friend Linda, and her husband, Bobby. They had a little 3 bedroom house, and there were at that point 7 of us living there. That was in 1975, and the pipeline business was booming. The housing shortage in Fairbanks was epic, and I remember stories of 20 people or more living in a tiny apartment, sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor, in shifts. So clearly my mom was unable to find a place to rent when we had to move, and things were a bit more crowded than we liked with Linda and Bobby (though they were gracious enough to let us stay.) My mom had a friend with a restaurant in town, which had a wine cellar. The friend said she was willing to convert the wine cellar into a little apartment for us, but my mom decided that living in a basement under a restaurant in an overcrowded town where you suddenly did have to worry about locking your doors, as the crime rate was booming along with the population, wasn’t something she was interested in any longer. So within days, she had us on a plane for California, and that was the end of my very own Fairbanks life.

I’ve been to Juneau once since then, which is where my mom and brother and SIL moved from California in the mid-90s, but never back to Fairbanks. I keep thinking it would be cool to take a vacation up there, and show Ted and Maya where I lived, and maybe try to find if there’s still a building out where the homestead was.

Thanks for coming along on this convoluted and very twisty post down memory lane. 13 things, and I still didn’t get to Eskimo Yo-Yos, blanket tossing, the igloo we built at WP, or the birthday cakes Amy Durocher and I used to make out of dog food in her easy bake, for Samantha and her dog, Blossom. Maybe next time.

Children’s Book Week

I found out over at Scribbit that this is Children’s Book Week. The post on Scribbit had some wonderful suggestions on how to encourage reading in children, if you’re interested. Then she came up with part two

We don’t have that problem around here, as Maya is just as much of a reader as her parents are. (This doesn’t always follow…I know several couples who both love to read, read to their children, model reading in front of their children, maybe even have one or two children who love to read…and one or two who just don’t enjoy it at all. Some is nature, and you just have to accept that.) Glinda has recently put up a couple of lists of not-to-be-missed childrens books, one for the younger set, and one for the older set. I’ve written a post or two on my favorite children’s books as well. So, this time I thought I might make a Thursday 13 list, of 13 children’s books that I love, but that I probably would have missed out on if I hadn’t had Maya. The only thing is that with so many of her books in storage for the move, I’m working from memory. Most of these are for the younger set, aka picture books.  But not all.

1. Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution, by Steve Jenkins. This book does an amazing job of explaining evolution and natural selection in a clear, sensible, fun way. The pictures are beautiful, and gosh, this book is more succinct and clear than my High School Biology book was on the matter.

2. One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale, by Demi. The tale of a greedy raja and the smart girl who tricks him into sharing the rice, thus saving her village from starvation. The girl’s a quick thinker with mad math skills. A wonderful book for kids learning the concept of multiplication.

3. The Empty Pot. Another beautiful picture book by Demi, the author of One Grain of Rice. The childless emperor decrees that the child who brings him the most beautiful flower shall inherit the kingdom. But they must use only seeds provided by the emperor. Ping loves flowers, and loves to help things to grow, and wishes very much to please the emperor, but his seed simply will not grow. What can he do? A simple tale of ethics, with beautiful illustrations. Another favorite by this same author is Liang and the Magic Paintbrush. Beautiful.

4. Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel  – I’m sure many of you grew up with this book and its rhythms and  funny moral, but I had never heard read it before.  I love it.  This is a wonderful story explaining why Chinese families choose short names for their children. You may find yourself in the shower, however, saying “Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo”.  And if you’re a spoilsport, go look at Wikipedia on this, and find out that the story is in no way true.  Duh.

5. So Much, by Cooke And Oxenbury- A cute story of a little boy who is very well loved.  This book is especially fun to read in a Caribbean accent.

6. The King’s Equal, by Katherine Paterson – Not a picture book, which the rest have been thus far, but a short chapter book about a somewhat dubious prince who wants very much to be king, but must first find a girl who is his equal.

7. Stephanie’s Ponytail, by Robert N. Munsch-  A silly story illustrating the pitfalls of mindless conformity.

8. On Mother’s Lap, by Ann Herbert Scott – Beautiful illustrations, and a must have for any child who is getting ready to welcome a new sibling into the house.  Maya’s an only, and she loved it, too.

9. Anatole, by Eve Titus – There are several books in this series, but the first is perhaps my favorite.  It’s the tale of Anatole, a smart French mouse who helps to save a local cheese factory from ruin, and becomes a respected member of their staff.

10. Elephants Aloft, by Kathi Appelt – This is an awesome book to give to a beloved niece or nephew. Auntie Rwanda misses her darling niece and nephew, Rama and Raja, and asks them to come to visit her.  Every page has a beautiful, clever picture, and a single preposition describing their journey.

11. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig – Poor Sylvester, he finds a magic pebble that will grant him any wish, and right then, along comes a hungry lion ready to eat him.  What will he do?  His parents faces at the end of the book are filled with such donkey joy, I can’t help but smile when I read it.  Truly, you can’t go wrong with William Steig.  Also really loved Brave Irene and Doctor De Soto.

12. The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster – I have no idea how I missed this book when I was growing up, but oh my god, what an amazing, wonderful, clever, funny book. (Wait..it was published in 1988?  I guess that’s why I missed it.  I was in college.)  Maya and I read this together, and then she went back and read it again, and maybe has read it even again since then.  Good for any child who thinks they are bored, with nothing to do.

13. Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen – A survival story for the older reader (4th grade up maybe?), of a boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash in a desolate region of Canada.  He has to survive using only his wits and a gift from his mother – a little hatchet, which proves useful in more ways than one would expect. 

14. Honorable Mention goes to the Warriors series of books, by a trio of authors writing under the pseudonym of Erin Hunter.   These books get an honorable mention from me, because I haven’t read them myself, so I don’t know the stories or the writing style.  What I do know is that they captured Maya’s imagination far more than any Harry Potter, Series of Unfortunate Events, or Little House have managed to do.  She turned her best friend onto them, who wasn’t much of a reader, but is now hooked.  Her mom says her reading level has shot up because of these books…because they were slightly above her reading level, and she stuck with them, because she loves them so much.  What higher praise can a book get, than to inspire a non-reader to read?

1. Take Gen to the vet for a checkup and shots.  Poor doggie. She hates that place almost as much as the groomers.  What a week she’s having!

Thursday 13 ~ Thank God for Showers

The other day when I was climbing into my nice steamy hot shower, I was reminded of Maya donating money to Unicef to bring clean water to children elsewhere. Then I thought of the book I had just finished, March, and how they didn’t have hot steamy showers, either. Pretty much, for the length of human history, no hot steamy showers. Want to take a bath? If you’re lucky enough to have access to a well, you can heat up water on your stove and use that. Otherwise, it’s the creek or river. No fun. And yet, that’s how it’s been for hundreds of thousands of years, and how it still is for the majority of people on this planet of ours. So then I started thinking, maybe it’s time for a Thursday 13, about modern inventions for which I am thankful. Here goes:

  1. Antibiotics. I’m sure I’d be dead by now without them, and if not, probably at least Ted or Maya would. Or deaf. Or missing a limb.
  2. Immunizations. To grow up not worrying about diphtheria, polio, tetanus, rubella, whooping cough, the list goes on…to grow up not worrying about these things is a blessing.
  3. Running Water. Being able to turn the tap and get hot or cold water, or any clean, drinkable water, is a HUGE time saver. The time saved from this one thing is often enough that children can stop working in the home and go to school.
  4. The Printing Press. I can’t imagine the world without books…where only the very rich and very well educated had access to books, to newspapers, to all kinds of wonderful stories and information about cultures. Truly, the printing press made our world a lot larger.
  5. Electricity. The ability to turn on a light, to turn on the heater, to power appliances like we do…without it, no music that we don’t create, no computers, no blogging (ACK!), no so many things we love to do.
  6. Hot Water Heater. Showers with all cold water don’t sound like much fun to me.
  7. Stove. No collecting fuel. Just turn it on, and cook. Amazing.
  8. Refrigeration. How fortunate we are to have a fridge, where we can keep food fresh for days and days and maybe even weeks for some of it.
  9. Telephones. Our ancestors used to move only 100 miles away, and never see their family again. How wonderful to be able to pick up the phone and share the day you are having with family and friends all over the world.
  10. Washing Machine. I see women on TV, washing their clothes in a barrel, or the sink, or the river, and that looks to be some back breaking work, let me tell you.
  11. Dishwasher. Washing dishes by hand isn’t really a big deal, so clearly I’m getting to the less important part of the list here. But still, I love having a dishwasher.
  12. Cars. I love being able to get in the car and go, and it’s wonderful to be able to visit family near and far, pick up groceries, etc. I love horses, and maybe I would have liked the world of the horse and carriage…but I think it might have smelled worse around here. 😉
  13. Computers. Last but not least, and for many of the reasons that the telephone is so wonderful. It has made the world smaller, to email, to blog, to do your banking, to make a living, right here with this cursed machine.

That’s my list…is there anything I didn’t mention, any wonderful modern inventions, for which you are truly thankful?

J Needs…

Here’s a twist on a meme I saw on Scarlett’s page, and thought might be fun. Here’s what you do:

1. Go to Google.com

2. Type your name and the word ‘needs’ in quotes in the search engine and hit the button. Give us 13 that make sense, if you can. (Scarlett used 10, but I went for 13, so I could make it a ‘Thursday 13’. 😉 )

Let’s see what “J needs”…

  1. J Needs Your Help! (This is true…sometimes, I do need your help.)
  2. J needs to work on her parenting (Sadly, this is often true. Actually, I think all parents need to work on their parenting, though. Not something to take for granted.)
  3. J needs a new pair of shoes (well, I don’t NEED a new pair of shoes…)
  4. J needs to get out in the fresh Eire (Is that a way of saying I need to get outside more? Definately true.)
  5. J needs a good home and she needs it ASAP (Hear that, housing gods? We need an offer on this place, so we can move!)
  6. J needs some time and patience with a friend who is willing to work with her (that could be so many of you…)
  7. J needs a team of committed people to pray for her (couldn’t hurt, right?)
  8. J needs to try to put her emotions aside and make a cold hard decision about what is best for her career (sigh)
  9. J needs to remember that many successful folks work their way through college and earn impressive degrees without burdening their parents or incurring massive debt (why would I need to remember that? I did that!)
  10. J needs to wrap a gift for her mother (sorry mom, your next gift may be unwrapped…)
  11. J needs us to do this (yes please, whatever this is)
  12. J needs to keep her nose out of her life and her things (my own life and things? how would I do that?)
  13. J needs to have the spotlight shined on her (well, maybe just a little…mostly that kind of thing freaks me out…)

Thirteen Movie Previews I Have Recently Seen

Maya and I went to see the new Shrek movie last Friday. My review? Yawn. I would have preferred to be at home watching a DVD of 90210 or something. Which just goes to show that everyone has their own source of stupid. Really, I’m tired of kids films. I’m glad Maya is 11, and is outgrowing most of this genre. For the most part, they’re simplistic and cloying, or sassy and full of gross-out humor. I’m tired of it, and kinda prefer films with actual dialoge and a plot. Call me crazy. While waiting for the film to start we saw 8, count them, 8 movie previews. Wow. There were a couple in there I might want to see, but for the most part? Serious yawn time.

  1. Bratz. “Live-action adventure based on the popular line of dolls.” Even though the preview showed them rejecting those same tried and true clicques that we’ve seen over and over in teen films, coming together to form their own group, the Bratz, this still looks stupid enough to suck out the brains of anyone even WALKING past the theater. I lost prescious brain cells during the preview.
  2. Transformers. “Dueling alien races, the Autobots and the Decepticons, bring their battle to Earth, leaving the future of humankind hanging in the balance. ” That’s two movies based on toys coming soon. WTF? Great CGI, not much else, from the looks of it.
  3. The Simpsons Movie. Of all the kid flicks, this is the one I’m most likely to actually shell out some money for. Why? Because this TV show has been on for EVER, and still remains fresh and funny.
  4. Surf’s Up. “A behind-the-scenes look at the annual Penguin World Surfing Championship, and its newest participant, up-and-comer Cody Maverick”. Know what? I’m sick of computer animation. I’m sick of clever twerps with witty lines. I’m sick of double entenres that are going to get kids in trouble if they repeat them on the school yard. (aka, one penguin calling another ‘pecker face’ or ‘pecker head’. Some kid who hasn’t heard that term yet is going to use it, and get in big trouble. Nice.) Even though some movies in this genre, and TV shows as well, are well written and clever, I could honestly go the rest of my life without seeing one.more.of.them. Yes, that goes for Toy Story and it’s ilk, too, because they started it.
  5. Ratatouille. “A young rat living within the walls of a famous Paris bistro wishes to become a chef, but is hindered by his family’s skepticism and the rat-despising staff and patrons.” This one might be cute…it kind of reminded me in some way of Anatole, the cheese making mouse in the childrens books. But then again, too many poop jokes, and yet more computer animation. I’ll read the Anatole books, and skip this movie.
  6. Bee Movie. “Barry B. Benson, a bee who has just graduated from college, is disillusioned at his lone career choice: making honey. On a special trip outside the hive, Barry’s life is saved by Vanessa, a florist in New York City. As their relationship blossoms, he discovers humans actually eat honey, and subsequently decides to sue us. ” Good god, will the CGI ever end? This one lends the voice of Jerry Seinfeld to the world of animation. Yawn. Not interested.
  7. Hot Rod. “Self-proclaimed stuntman Rod Kimble is preparing for the jump of his life. Rod plans to clear fifteen buses in an attempt to raise money for his abusive stepfather Frank’s life-saving heart operation. He’ll land the jump, get Frank better, and then fight him, hard.” I could almost see this film just because it’s not CGI. But then again, it looks truly, really, very very lame, so again, I’ll stay home. Maybe I’ll read a book or something.
  8. Nancy Drew. “Teen detective Nancy Drew accompanies her father on a business trip to Los Angeles, where she happens upon clues to a murder mystery involving a movie star. ” I never read the books, but if the reviews were REALLY good, and Maya REALLY wanted to see it, and I didn’t eat lunch first, so I had room for popcorn, I could be persuaded to see this one. Looked like it could go either way on the sucky/non-sucky meter.

On Monday, since we were childless, Ted and I decided to go see a movie I’ve been wanting to see, The Waitress. My review? 1 thumb up. It wasn’t the best film ever ever ever, but it definately had these sweet moments, and the characters were pretty interesting. I knew the end was coming a mile and a half away, but I wanted to see it anyway. Since this is a little indie pick, not only did we see fewer previews than at the opening night of Shrek, but they were definately of the artsy-fartsy type. Hey, I like artsy-fartsy sometimes! There were only 3 previews:

  1. Paris, je t’aime. This looks to be a film of short love affairs with the City of Lights. As you know, I love Paris, so will I see this one? Peu-etre. S’il neige. (Perhaps. Probably.)
  2. Vitus. A German film about a child prodigy, whose parents want him to become a concert pianist. I guess I should want to see it, I’m not sure why. But I’m not terribly interested in seeing him broaden his horizons and see his parents learn that a more well-rounded life would be better for him. His grandpa does take him flying though, so maybe that’ll be cool for him. I won’t find out, ’cause I’m not going to see it.
  3. The Savages. “A sister and brother face the realities of familial responsibility as they begin to care for their ailing father. ” Looks like they put him in an old folks home to me. Pat, if you’re reading this, the elderly father in the film has your same last name. Any relation?

OK, so this is a Thursday 13, and we have the 8 flicks I saw at Shrek, and 3 from The Waitress…which leaves me 2 short. So I’ll pull out 2 previews we saw when we went to see Spiderman 3 awhile ago.

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean. These movies are SO popular, and I’m sure they’re really really good, but I haven’t seen any of them yet. I have trouble getting past the idea that they’re based on a ride from Disneyland. Then again, if they’re good and well done, who cares where the idea came from? Maybe we should Netflix them and see what all the fuss is about?
  2. Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer. “The Fantastic Four learn that they aren’t the only super-powered beings in the universe when they square off against the powerful Silver Surfer and the planet-eating Galactus.” HUGE yawn. Not even close to interested.

So that’s it, my fragmented, “who cares about movie previews anyway?” Thursday Thirteen. And I couldn’t even get the numbers to go sequentially, because of my blathering in between. Sorry for boring the crap out of you. 😉

Thirteen Things I Love About Py

Ted 4
1. He’s AWESOME to travel with. He loves traveling, and it doesn’t stress him out. He’s fine going budget if we need to, but if we can afford it, he likes to surprise me and upgrade us to the best we can get. All without putting anything on credit, of course, because that’s not his thing, either.

2. He’s an amazing father. I was hoping to get one of those for my kid(s) way back when I was dating, and boy, I struck the jackpot with Py.

3. He’s a great cook. We both like cooking, so it’s nice to have the variety, and neither of us get tired of just our own cooking all of the time. Curry and roti nights are the BEST around here.

4. He has a snarky sense of humor.

5. Despite #4, he’s still a genuinely nice person – This quality is what first attracted me to him almost 20 years ago.

6. He loves nice restaurants. He’s willing to spend a bit more to get really good food, really good service, and a nice atmosphere. Since I also love this, it’s one of our ‘hobbies’.

7. In addition to being snarky, he is often downright silly. This is nice for me, because my sense of humor is somewhat dry, so we balance each other out.

8. He’s very supportive. No matter what I’m looking to do in life, I know he’s on my side, 110%.

9. He has great teeth, and a wonderful smile.

10. He’s pretty low key. More moody than I am, by far, but for the most part, he’s a pretty go with the flow person. I like that a LOT, because stress mongers stress me out.

11. He’s unpredictable. Often on conventional ‘gift days’ (like Valentine’s day or an anniversary), he’ll lay low…he doesn’t feel cowed by the greeting card company…but then he’ll just be out with a friend, and come home with a new iPod for me, or we’ll be looking at jewelry, and I’ll see a ring I like, and he’ll buy it for me, no event or reason. To me, that spontaneity is much more romantic.

12. He likes to have fun. Whether it’s going to a movie, for a bike ride, walking around in Berkeley, whatever. He’s up for it.

13. Strong lips. 😉

Happy Birthday, PY! Hope it’s lovely, even if it is a birthday surrounded by house selling stress! I love you more than my shoes. Or my CDs. Or anything I can think of right now.

Thirteen Reasons my Daughter is Cute…


I keep a little journal for Maya, and in it, I’ve been writing off and on since she was little…memories of times we have together, updates, cute things, etc.  I looked at it the other night and I realized it’s been a LONG time since I wrote in it.  Like maybe a couple of years, except without the maybe.  I was looking back, and I found some very cute things that Maya said or did when she was very small…she still says and does very cute things, but since she’s older now, she might not appreciate me sharing them now. 🙂

So, 13 cute things Maya said or did when she was young.  Fun memories.

  1. When she was little, Maya was obsessed with bumps.  She used to like it when I would furrow my brow for her, so she could run her hand over the bumps.  To ask me to furrow, she would say, “Do it”.  To ask me to unfurrow, she would say, “Do it not.”  It was a fun game.  “Do it.  Do it not.  Do it.  Do it not.”  Boy, kids are easily amused, huh?
  2. Once, when I was working on the family genealogy, and hit a particularly confusing part within the family document, I was trying to concentrate, and Maya would not stop talking.  She kept asking me questions, and I kept saying, “Honey, give me 5 minutes, just wait 5 minutes.”  Finally, I lost it, and I told her to shut up.  She was completely flabbergasted, and said, “Hey! You can’t say that to me, I’m calling 911!”  I could hear Ted laughing through the bathroom door on that one.
  3. When Maya was 5, her best friend was Chanel. Another close friend was Dominique. One day, we were talking about friends, and she said that Dominique was her number 1 best friend.  I said, well, what about Chanel?  She said, “Chanel is my Zero best friend.” (She had been working on the number line a lot, and what’s closest to home?  Not 1 certainly. Zero.)
  4. One spring, we went to San Francisco to see a fireworks display, combined with music.  Maya was terrified, because the noise was SO loud, but finally, after I pointed out that some of the fireworks looked like Jewel’s long blonde hair, she pulled her face out of my neck and started enjoying herself.  On the way home (on BART, our local local transit system), she entertained the people near us by telling them how it was dark dark dark outside, and the fireworks said, “pop pop pop!”  They loved her enthusiasm.  About 2 years later, a woman came over to us at Longs drug store, and said she recognized us, and that she and her husband still used that code word…”Oh, it’s dark dark dark outside…”
  5. After a holiday spent at her grandparents house, Maya wasn’t ready to leave.  As we were getting out of the car at home, I told her that I was glad that she loved spending time with her grandparents, and that she could go spend the night with them sometime if she wanted to.  Her shocked reply, “But Mama, I can’t drive!”  I explained that actually, we would drive her there.
  6. After mixing the batter and helping me to fill the cupcake tins, we waited for them to come out of the oven.  Right away, Maya wanted to frost them.  I told her that she could, but she would have to wait until they cooled off, or else the frosting would melt.  Very frustrated, she said, “I never get to do ANYTHING!”
  7. In 2000, we went to New York and Philadelphia for a week.  While in New York, we took a boat tour out to the Statue of Liberty.  This was when Maya was in full Telly Tubby mode, and afterwards, she kept saying, in Po’s little voice, “Po likes the beast!”
  8. Trying to get to stay up late…I told her it was time to go to bed, and she was sitting in my lap, trying to convince me otherwise.  “Mama, can I stay up this much later?” She asked, with her thumb and forfinger about an inch apart. “No, it’s time to get ready for bed now.”  “This much later?” moves fingers a bit more closely together.  “No, it’s time to get ready for bed now.”  “This much later?” her fingers are very close together, and also very close to my face.  “No, it’s time to get ready for bed now.”  Then, in a friendly, helpful little voice, “I’ll pick your nose!”
  9. When we moved from our old condo to this one, Maya was about 2 1/2.  We didn’t want her to be in the way while we moved and cleaned, so she went to Lalunas house to play with Chee and Big Sis for the day.  When we went to pick her up, we walked over to the old place, about 2 blocks, and showed her the inside, how our things were not there anymore.  She went right to the refridgerator, opened it, and said, “There’s no cheese in there.”  Then she was happy to go to the new place, and see that there WAS cheese here.  Whew.
  10. When learning about U.S. History, Maya checked out a book from the library all about George Washington…she was very interested in him, and was comparing him to our current George, and saying what a good president Washington was, and what a good man as well.  I told her that yes, he was a very good president, but that these things are hard to judge, because while he was a good man in many ways, he owned slaves, and by our current standards, that is not something that good people would do.  She was offended, and said that Washington had no right to be free himself, because he owned slaves.  I never thought of it that way, really.  And that one’s not even cute…just astute.
  11. I was once tickling Maya on the sofa, and she was laughing very hard, and in order to get me to stop, she said, “Get your hands off me, you damn dirty ape!”  It worked…we fell down laughing.
  12. At one point, Maya took our names and changed them to Manama and Dabado, which, she said, weren’t really our names…they were the names of prisons.  I wonder where the heck that one came from?
  13. When she was very small, and learning her letters, she had a definite favorite.  Her favorite letter was W.  When we were driving past Safeway, she’d see the ‘w’ in the sign, and get very excited, “Look Mama, W!”  I think my sister-in-law sent her a little wooden W for her very own after I told her that story.

OK, that’s it.  Sorry if that bored the heck out of you.  Hearing cute stories about other people’s kids pretty much sucks, because they’re not your kids, and hence, really not that cute.  But it’s my blog, so there you go.

Thirteen Memes…

I was recently tagged for two memes that I’ve already done, and I don’t think I could go through with doing them again, as much as I do love me a good meme. So, I thought, why not milk this for a Thursday Thirteen, another type of meme….I mean, really, why not. So, here you go, Thirteen Memes I’ve completed. Wendy and Curiosity Killer, the first two are the ones you tagged me for:

  1. Five Things You May Not Know About Me – Okay, Wendy, yours was 6 things, so here’s one more: I confess so much to you people, that there is nothing left to put here. That’s something about me, right?  I confess to everything on my blog?  Of course, you KNEW that, so maybe it doesn’t count…UPDATE: In the comments, Wendy asked if I might perhaps be a closet Weird Al Fan, which I am not.  Not an unfan, but not so much a fan, either.  BUT, that reminded me, that when I worked in a hotel, I met Mr. Yankovic while he was checking in.  Pretty cool, huh?  Also met Jerry Seinfeld before his show began, Harry Anderson (remember Night Court?) Toni Tennille (she’s afraid of heights, so wanted a low floor, until I told her all of our suites were at the top of the 32 story hotel), the late great Wendie Jo Sperber (Didn’t she also go by Wendie Jo Spencer?), Sam Donaldson (who scared the crap out of me), and perhaps a few other somewhat famous people.  So, Wendy, your instincts proved quite accurate here, almost…creepy…
  2. A Pack of Four Leaf Clovers – Curiosity Killer, This one is pretty close to the one you tagged me for…It got exactly zero comments, so I’m not sure if anyone even read it. That was January of ’06, so not long after I started blogging, and I think, it was my first meme. I didn’t even know the term meme yet, actually.
  3. A List of Fives…not sure what the real name of this one was. Got one comment, but it was from MIM, so that’s good, right?
  4. A Saturday Meme – which was called that because I posted on a Saturday. So what. This was after I went over to Haloscan, so the comments on that one are back at the old blogger blog.
  5. Regrets, I have a few – This is one that I made up myself, so I felt pretty darned smug about it.
  6. My Life in Music
  7. Six Weird Things About Me – Wait, maybe this is closer to the one that Wendy tagged me for…anyway, I’ve clearly done it to death, and anything you’all don’t know yet, you’re not going to learn here!
  8. A nice Thursday 13, with warm weather and painted toes.
  9. A couple of Fast Fives…maybe I should check back and see if she does these anymore?
  10. A food meme. ‘Cause those are fun…
  11. A movie meme, ’cause those are funner…
  12. A book meme, ’cause those are funnest…
  13. Another list of fives…five of this, five of that…

So, that’s 13 of the 34 (ACK!) memes I’ve done so far. Anyone got a new one for me to try?

Thirteen Things…

It’s another of those days when I don’t have anything specific to talk about, so you get a bunch of mismatch stuff.  Here goes.

1. I saw something on Yahoo yesterday, about Valentine mistakes you don’t want to make.  Want to know what the mistakes were?  Being too predictable.  Roses, fancy dinner, sexy lingerie.  See the picture here, from Yahoo?  She’s pissed off, because he didn’t get it right.  That makes me mad.  Because the assumption is, he tried. He was trying to be romantic for Valentine’s day, and darn it, it just wasn’t good enough for her.  I’m sure some women are truly like this, and I’m sure some men are stuck with them, but geez…no wonder guys stress about this stuff and give up, if that’s the pressure they’re under for darned Hallmark Holiday.  For me, I would prefer a guy who is romantic when he wants to be, not just on Hallmark Holidays.  And if we decide to celebrate Valentine’s day, because, well, it IS fun, then there shouldn’t be pressure to do it all a certain way.

2. I’m reading “Henry and June”.  Pretty complex stuff. I thought it was just going to be one thing, and it is, but it’s also other things as well…I saw the movie when it came out, and it was pretty good, but I don’t remember a whole lot about it.  Perhaps I’ll Netflix it after I finish the book.  I always thought the NC-17 rating was because Anais and June kissed.  IMDb says it’s because of a postcard with a woman and a squid in compromising positions.  I wonder, was the squid married? Hmmm.

3. Went to dinner the other night with my friend Neva, my best friend from 6th grade.  As always, we had a great time. 🙂

4. Apparently, drinking hand sanitizing gel can kill you, so don’t try, even though it DOES contain alcohol.  Oh well, back to wine for me, I guess.

5. I can’t wait for Lost to start up again.  That’s next week, right?  Whew.

6. I considered jumping into the fray on the whole Cosmopolitan Mommies thing, but really, I can’t get myself fired up about it.  If moms want to get together and sip wine on a Friday afternoon, more power to them.  Why is this such a big frikkin’ deal?  Would it be a big deal if we were talking about dads having a beer or two with their buddies? I doubt it.  Sigh.

7. Did anyone see the report that eating a diet high in fiber cuts the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women?  The women in the study appeared to half their risk of breast cancer, but they ate 30g of fiber a day.  The current USDA recommended amount is closer to 20g a day, and they say the average person gets about 12g a day.  Hello, high fiber cereals, I guess.  And of course, any diet is better off if you load up on the fruits and vegetables.

8. Speaking of Breast Cancer, I just read the very sad news that Molly Ivins has succumbed.  What a great woman, a great writer.  She will definitely be missed.

9. Am I the only person who doesn’t care when the next Harry Potter book comes out? (Hint…July 21) I’ve read four of them, I TRIED to read 5, but I can’t get motivated.  Hey, maybe I’ll make that a Chunkster.

10. South Dakota has passed another ban on abortion, this one conceding for either rape or the life of the mother.  Though, to make sure she was really raped, the bill requires that the woman provide the police with the DNA of the aborted fetus.   Wow.

11. Along the lines of number one up there, I read this with dismay…women are taking lessons to learn about football, so that they can ‘snag a man’ on Superbowl Sunday. Why all the games, people?  Doesn’t anyone meet in speech class anymore? Or maybe at El Torito?

12. How many of you think we might end up having some kind of nasty altercation with Iran?  That sounds like fun, right?  No? I didn’t think so.

13. Is it Friday yet? No? Why the hell not?

Favorite Holiday Songs

I like Christmas music ok, but not when it’s played all day, every day, on the radio. Ugh. And I like a Hanukkah song or two, which is why I titled this, Favorite Holiday Songs, and not Favorite Christmas songs, though, really, they’re mostly Christmas songs. Sorry. And, even though I was raised atheist, and don’t really go in for Christmas being that much about Jesus, kinda think it’s more about pagans and the winter solstice, and it was coopted by the Catholic Church early on while trying to convert said pagans, blah blah blah, etc. etc., there is truly something so wonderful and hopeful about the more religious songs, and I mostly can’t get into Santa unless he is in a Rankin/Bass special, so the songs I love, that really make me feel like Christmas is here, are the ones celebrating the birth of Christ. So what, I’m not allowed to be contradictory? Whatever.
  1. Oh Come All Ye Faithful
  2. Joy to the World
  3. Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth – You know, the one with Bing Crosby and David Bowie? What’s not to like about that?
  4. The First Noel
  5. Hanukkah, oh Hanukkah
  6. I Have a Little Dreidel
  7. Happy Christmas (War is Over)
  8. Silent Night
  9. What Child is This
  10. Winter Wonderland
  11. Blue Christmas
  12. 12 Days of Christmas
  13. The Christmas Song (I know, it mentions Santa. What did I say about being contradictory?)

As for holiday albums, or CDs, my favorites are A Charlie Brown Christmas, by Vince Guaraldi, The Christmas Song, Nat King Cole, and December, by George Winston. Oh, and it seems to me that we have a pretty good Bing Crosby Christmas CD sitting around here as well. Put those on, and maybe use Ted’s old trick…put a stick of cinnamon and a couple of cloves in some water on your stove, and simmer…makes the whole house smell like Christmas. Low tech idea from those college years. 😉

And hey, does anyone remember a song that ended “32 hooves and 8 little tails in all, dashing dashing dashing over the wall!” It was some kind of Santa/reindeer song that I learned in chorus in the 6th grade, but my Google search came up with nothing. It was fun to sing.

Thirteen Thoughts


1. Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo.  It’s been fun reading daily entries from some of the less frequent posters who took the challange.  I’m glad so many folks participated!

2. I got my hair done yesterday….gotta say, I love it!  Something about loving a haircut that makes things good all around, huh?  And being all blonde again doesn’t hurt, either.

3. Stupid cold.  Ted and I both came down with colds last week, and they’re slowly going away.  Mine was never horrid, but I gotta say, I’ll be glad when it’s completely gone. I feel all post-nasaly, blech.

4. I’m glad it’s getting cold.  I like the cold around here.  For those of you NOT in California, cold here is high 20s at night, and everyone complaining how cold it is when it’s in the mid 50s to low 60s in the middle of the day.  So really, not bad. But it was 34 degrees walking to school.  Frosty.

5. I have a mammogram appointment today.  I had one once before, and they’re really not so bad, but I gotta tell you that it’s PMS time for me, and while I do not suffer from PMS, as in moods, I’m very tender today in an area that is about to be squashed like a pancake.  Good times.

6. I’m starting to think about Christmas.  I love Christmas, but for me, I like to think of it as that whole week, from maybe a few days before Christmas until New Years.  If I put too much focus on the day itself, it can get kind of stressful, and feel like a letdown after.  But if I focus on the whole time, how I’m looking forward to driving around, looking at lights, and Christmas morning, and the day with family, and having a week off of work after, and maybe getting to do some fun things that week, it takes a lot of the stress away.  And really, why should holidays be so stressful?  They’re supposed to be fun.

7. I’ve been trying Py Korry’s suggestions for happiness.  I kinda like it. :)  It’s nice to reflect on the good things that happen in an ordinary day.

8. We had chili last night…it’s a quick recipe that I usually make with ground turkey, but since Maya’s a vegetarian now, I made it with fake ground meat instead.  It was good, though I usually make it with 1lb of meat, and the recipe calls for 2…this time I tried 2, and I think I prefer it with more beans, less meat-substitute.

9. I started a new book…The Jump Off Creek, about a pioneer woman who is living in the mountains of Oregon, in the 1890s.  I bought it in Portland this summer, and when we were driving home, there was a sign that said we were passing that very creek.  Cool, huh?  I’m just a few chapters in, but so far, so good.

10. Maya’s school is participating in the Model UN, which is pretty new for kids of her age group.  This is the first year for Montessori kids at all, I think.  I am worried about the expense, though, because I hate fundraising so much.  Blech.  I’d rather just write a check if we can afford it.

11. My cold medicine makes me fall asleep while sitting up.  Nice.  I’ll be sitting there, watching a tv show or something, and then I’m snoring…but I’m still 99% awake! Weird. I don’t think I’ll buy this kind again.

12. It’s almost the weekend again.  Love that.  I wish we had another 4-day weekend, like last week.  Oh well.

13. One of Maya’s friends is dancing in the Nutcracker, and they’re going to see her perform today.  I hope they all have a great time.  Go, D, GO!

Thursday Thirteen Organics



Cherry and I were at the grocery store on Sunday, buying groceries for dinner.  We had a short conversation about organic foods, and how it’s important to support organic and sustainable farming whenever we can.  It’s better for the earth, better for the environment, better for our health, and it tastes better.  Of course, there is always the issue of the pocket book, because organic foods typically cost between 50% and 150% more than conventionally raised food. 

We all know that organic food is healthier for us than conventionally raised food.  This is even more true for children, due to the fact that their bodies and brains are still growing and developing.  A recent study showed that the level of pesticides in the urine of children who eat only organic food was 6 to 9 times lower within just 5 days, compared to children that ate conventional foods.

So, if organic food is better for the environment, and better for our bodies, but too expensive to maintain in every aspect of our lives, how to decide which foods are worth the extra money?  I looked around a bit, and it seems that the answer lies in whether it is possible to effectively get the pesticides off of the food before consumption.  So, here for your information and health, are the top 13 items that are worth the extra money, so pay up:

  1. apples
  2. bell peppers
  3. cherries
  4. dairy
  5. imported grapes (not sure why only imported?)
  6. meat, poultry & eggs
  7. nectarines
  8. peaches
  9. pears
  10. potatoes
  11. raspberries
  12. spinach
  13. strawberries

These foods are worth the extra money, because the FDA found that they still contained substantial levels of pesticides, even after washing.  They also said organic baby food is worth the money, as is organic celery, but since I don’t care for celery, and I only had room for 13 items, I pulled that one. 😉

It is also suggested that if you can afford it, you should go organic when you buy canned or frozen fruits and vegetables as well. 

Interesting, huh?  I wonder how much of this I can afford.  And remember, if you’re broke, it’s better to buy conventional fruits and veggies and work on getting them as clean as possible, rather than eliminating fruits and vegetables from your diet altogether.