Friday Randomness (on Saturday)

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Maybe I should say something about the election that’s coming up, but I can’t.  I’m sick of the whole thing.  I wish that Clinton had a more worthy adversary.  I want her to win, but I’d rather it be on her own merits, not because her opponent is such an asshole.

We went to Portland a couple of weeks ago for a ‘drive by visit’.  Maya is in school, Ted and I don’t have a lot of vacation time saved up, so we flew up Friday night, spent Saturday with family, flew home Sunday morning.  My sister got married back in March, a VERY small ceremony, and this was the party to celebrate.  It was so lovely to see everyone, but again it reminded us that we are living far from my family, and the kids are growing up without our frequently getting to see them.

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Back when I worked in a cubicle farm, I had a clock radio/iPod docking station, because I wanted to listen to my iPod at work.   When I started working from home, I brought it home and put it next to my bed.  The clock sucked for being next to my bed.  I hated the backlit display, SO bright, and it was hard to read the numbers at night.  At some point along the way, the volume stopped working well.  It was hard to get it to a decent volume.  Too loud, or too quiet.  I had no idea how to set the alarm on the thing.  For some reason, inertia mostly, I kept it for years.  Finally, I decided that I had had enough, and I went to the drug store and bought myself a new clock radio to keep by my bed.  It’s not the best ever, but it has a dark face with red numbers, very easy to read at night.  It was still a bit more bright than I wanted, so I bought an interesting product to dim it.  It’s black film that clings to the front of the clock.  You can’t even see the numbers during the day, but I don’t care about that.  What I like is that it’s dark in our room at night, and I can easily read the numbers.  I haven’t tried setting the alarm yet, so we’ll have to see how that works.

Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving.  Since Ted was born in Canada (though they came to the U.S. when he was just over a year old), I like to make Thanksgiving dinner for the three of us.  Often I make a turkey breast, but this year I wanted leftovers, so I made a small turkey, about 10lbs.  There was enough that Monday night we had Thanksgiving dinner, Tuesday we had turkey chili, Wednesday we had leftovers, Thursday we had turkey pot pie. Friday I was looking in the fridge, and we still have yams, cranberry sauce, and gravy, but no more turkey.  So I decided to buy a turkey breast, and we would have Thanksgiving dinner part 2.  When I told Ted, he said he would rather have pizza, he’s a little tired of turkey.  So pizza it was.  I’d already bought the turkey breast, so we will be having that along with the yams and so on, probably tonight.

Are you a fan of the Gilmore Girls?  I’m a fan, and I’ve been watching the series again on Netflix in anticipation of the new season coming out after Thanksgiving.  If you’ve not been paying attention, it’s going to be 4 episodes, I believe 90 minutes each.  Each episode will be a different season, so they will take place over the course of one year.  There’s been a lot of speculation as to what has changed over the almost 10 years since the series ended.  One change is that the actor who played the father, Ed Hermann, has died in the interim, so there will be no Richard Gilmore.  I’m sad about that.  I loved him and Emily best for the whole show.

He loves to sleep like this. Don't know why.

He loves to sleep like this. Don’t know why.

Puppy Boy was super sick last week.  We have to assume that he ate something he shouldn’t have, or licked up something nasty off the ground, but we don’t know exactly.  He has a habit of barfing.  Not sure why, but he does. Maybe he has an acid prone stomach.  Generally we give him a Pepcid AC every morning, and that takes care of it.  But last week, he started barfing and couldn’t stop.  He threw up all over the house, with us following close behind with the carpet cleaner, until it had been a couple of hours and he was just puking foam.  We decided enough was enough, and took him to the vet.  He threw up in the car on the way there, and at the vet’s as well.  The vet said it could be that he ate something dangerous, or it could be obstructed bowels, or who knows.  Blood work and x-rays were next, followed by an IV of liquids and anti-nausea meds.  He stopped barfing.  The vet said to take him home, and if he was OK in the morning, no need to come back.  If he threw up again in the morning, we had to bring him in again.  There was something on the x-Ray that was PROBABLY nothing, but if he was still barfing the next morning, we should check into it.  Morning came, he drank some water, and barfed it up.  Back to the vet for us.  More x-rays.  More IV.  More meds.  The x-Ray was again inconclusive, but the spot that the vet worried about was gone.  We brought him home, and then the diarrhea started.  That went on much of Friday, thankfully all in the yard, none at home.  Saturday he was a little better.  Sunday he seemed almost back to his regular self, and every day got a little better until now he’s fine.  The only thing that’s bothering him at all now is that while he was sick, he was eating chicken and rice, and now it’s all gone and it’s back to kibble.  So, we never found out exactly what was wrong, except that the blood work didn’t show anything like poison, and the x-rays didn’t show anything too crazy.  Our puppy boy is fine.  Our bank account is not.

Friday Randomness

Wow…it’s been over 2 months since I last posted here. I wonder if the J who posted every day, sometimes multiple times a day, would believe that this time might come? Sigh. I like blogging, it’s just that all too often lately, it doesn’t even occur to me, when priviously it was as though my life was fodder for the blog.

So…what’s new in the life of J?

Well, I started my new job June 1st. I ended my last job May 27th, giving me a grand total of 4 days off between jobs. I regret that a bit, but on the other hand, I didn’t really have any money to go anywhere, and we would have had to find someone to take care of Mulder, and Maya was still working at the time, and Ted didn’t have any vacation time either. So be it. So work work work it is. But I work from home still, which I still really like. My job is different than anything I’ve done before, which is good. I like my coworkers. We had a big meeting to go to in mid-June, meaning I had to get dressed and leave the house, and see my coworkers in person. I liked them even more in person than over the phone, so that’s a good thing. We’re hiring another new person on our small team, she starts Monday, so I guess that means I won’t be the new girl anymore.

Puppy Boy Mulder is doing well. He doesn’t pull nearly as hard on the leash when out for his walks. He doesn’t bark nearly as much as he did when we first got him. Sometimes the neighbors can even walk by without setting him off, though the group of idiots outside our window playing Pokemon Go quite loudly at 11:20 one night was too much for him to resist. I can’t say I blame him on that one. Also, Mulder appears to be part cat. I bought him a laser pointer, and he loves to chase the little light around the house. Also, he likes to torture bugs. He caught a fly the other day, and he kept it alive and under his control for too long. I was going to try to put it outside, but then he ate it. Oh well.

This week saw both of the cars go into the shop. Ugh. One car was overdue for some maintenance type stuff that we’ve been putting off, and finally were able to manage. Expensive. Then while the one was in the shop, the other decided it was a good time for the fan/air conditioning to blow. Nice when it’s over 100 degrees every damn day. That wasn’t AS expensive, but it wasn’t cheap by any means. Both cars had better behave for a good long while now. And as Ted so wisely said, at least it’s cheaper than a new car.

Maya graduated (with honors) with her AA-T from our local community college in May. AA-T is an Associates of Arts specifically for Transfer students. They didn’t have such a thing when I transferred from my local community college way back when. Back then, you only graduated with an AA if you weren’t planning on transferring to a 4 year University. We didn’t celebrate much, other than to get takeout sushi for dinner, as she had a paper due that night anyway. We’ll save the celebration for when she graduates from Cal. Speaking of which, we made our first payment to Cal for Maya’s tuition yesterday. It’s getting real! Classes start in just a couple more weeks. Crazy.

Tomorrow we’re going to Sacramento to attend the wedding of my college roommate, Troy. I haven’t seen him in ages, and we reconnected via Facebook. He and his husband (they actually got married a month or so ago, tomorrow is the celebration) are planning to become expats and move to Spain in the next year. I wish them all the best, and am looking forward to celebrating their life together with them.

Have you watched “The Great British Baking Show”? We started watching a few weeks ago, got hooked quickly, binge watched all we could watch here in the US, and now are settling down to just watching new episodes on Friday nights (PBS). It’s really good, and I generally don’t watch a lot of reality type TV, other than cooking shows…and this is a reality cooking show, so there you go. But I like it much more than Chopped or any other reality competition type cooking show I’ve seen.

I watched as much of the conventions as I could stomach. Meaning very little of the Republican convention, and most of the evening portions of the Democratic convention. What I saw on the R side gave me the willies. I did like what I saw on the D side. I liked seeing the Bernie supporters getting rowdy, even though they were pretty disrespectful. I think Democracy is somewhat messy, and people have the right to be heard. Both of the Obama speeches were amazing. I was remembering Obama’s speech in 2008, and how he made me almost believe in a better world. He has that talent when he gives a really good speech, and it was a pleasure to see that in action again. I wish Hillary had that gift, but I’m happier for the policy type gifts that she does have, and I suspect they will mean more if she is President than being able to enthrall a room of doubters. I do hope so very much that she is our next President, and that she gets a decent congress and doesn’t blow that. I’ve always been cynical about politicians. None of them have yet managed to prove me wrong on that stance.

That’s it for now…hopefully it won’t be 10 weeks before I blog again. Now maybe I’ll try to come and see what you’ve been up to, my bloggy friends.

Friday Randomness

Have you seen the beautiful tribute to my first husband, David Bowie, at the BRIT awards?  This is the entire thing, I think, including a tribute by Annie Lennox, a tribute by Gary Oldmam, and a song by Lorde, backed up by performers who had worked with Bowie in the past.  I’ll confess, Lorde’s song brought me to tears.  I miss David Bowie being alive in the world.  It was a better place with him here.   Coming so soon after the Emmy awards, which included a tribute by Lady Gaga, of course invites comparison.  I’ll chime in and say that Gaga’s tribute left me feeling cold, didn’t move me at all.  Hers was an over the top performance, with her dressed to honor the glam rock Bowie from the 70s.  She did a fine job, but tried to squeeze in too many songs, and it sounded like she was trying to pitch her voice to match his.  Lorde instead did a straight up version of ‘Life on Mars?’ that was gorgeous and simple.  The video above is the whole BRIT tribute.  If you want to see just Lorde’s performance, it starts about 9 minutes in.

Speaking of Gaga, I read today that Joe Biden is going to introduce her at the Academy Awards on Sunday, where she will perform her Oscar nominated song about rape and sexual assult.  This comes in the wake of a court decision this week that Kesha, who was (allegedly) sexually assaulted by her producer, Dr. Luke, will not be released from her contract with Sony.  Kesha says she wants to break all ties with Luke, but Sony says they are unable to do so, because the contract belongs to Dr. Luke’s company, which has a deal with Sony.  What a mess.  This is just an injunction, however, and the actual trial hasn’t started yet.  So we’ll see whether she will be contractually required to create 4 more albums with her attacker.  I don’t know more about the case, but I’m glad it’s getting attention.  Sexual assult is hard to prove, and so often the blame is put on the victim.  We need to change that mentality.

How’s the weather where you are?  It’s stupidly gorgeous here, 70 degrees outside right now.  We’ve had a very dry February, though not as dry as recent years.  January was pretty wet, which was good, unless you live on a cliff in Pacifica.  But February is prime rainy season.  It’s not unheard of in an ‘el nino’ year for us to have a dry spell, so I’m hoping still for a wet March and maybe even April.  After that it pretty much dries up around here.  What we need are winter storms to drop a lot of moisture, and we’re just not getting that right now.  Ugh.

Did you watch ‘Freaks and Geeks‘ when it was on back in ’99-2000?   We did, though I think we missed it first run and watched in reruns.  The entire series (only 18 episodes) is available now on Netflix.  If you came of age in the early 80s, you should give yourself up to a good binge and watch the entire thing.  We just finished the other night, and it really held up well.

I thought the series finale of Downton Abbey was this coming Sunday, but maybe they didn’t want to go up against the Academy Awards.  It’s next week, March 6th.  We have the DVD, so we’ve watched already.  Clearly I’m not evil and I won’t spoil anything for you, but I will say I think they did a really nice job with it.

Do you like Spaghetti and Meatballs?  We do.  We’re especially fond of the recipe in my Alice Waters cookbook.  It’s fairly involved, though, and usually Ted makes the meatballs while I make the sauce and it’s a real team effort weekend type meal.  So I was happy the other day to see that Smitten Kitchen had an everyday meatball recipe.  And instead of serving it with pasta, she said maybe you might want to have it with garlic toast, as sort of an open face meatball sub.  So that’s exactly what we did, and gosh it was good.  I think I would have liked the sauce portion to be a bit more complex, maybe some onions or carrots or something in there, but for a quick sauce, it was quite good.  Happily, there are leftovers on the menu tonight.

Lastly in this rambling post, for some reason last night I was thinking about these TV dinners, Libbyland, we sometimes got when I was a kid, in Alaska.  They were made and marketed to kids, so there was a game or a puzzle or something on the box that you could occupy yourself with, there was a packet of Nestle Quick that you could mix with milk and have chocolate milk (maybe they even had strawberry milk with some meals, I’m not sure.)  TV dinners back then were cooked in the oven, and these for some reason often came with chocolate pudding, so that was hot.  Strange.  The food was definitely geared towards kids tastes, and was fairly gross.  But boy, I loved those things.  I think we would get those if my mom was going on a date, so not a nightly thing by any means.

 

Happy New Year – Friday Randomness

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Hey There Party People, what’s shakin’? December was a good combination of busy and lazy, and somehow in amongst the lazy I did not post even once. That’s pathetic.

In line with catching you up a bit, life here has been good, not crazy, not too different than it was before. We’ve had another month with dog-boy, Mulder, and he’s settling in so very well. We all adore him so much. He’s playful and loving and wonderful. He’s learning a bit of manners, learning to walk better on a leash, etc. He doesn’t jump on the furniture as much anymore. He doesn’t bark nearly as much anymore. He’s only vomited twice. He did wake us up barking Christmas Eve morning, maybe 1 A.M. Not good. But it turned out he was barking at the police officers who were here, because our neighbor’s house had been broken into. He didn’t bark during the actual burglery, but based on the layout of our houses, I doubt he even heard it. So he’s a good guard dog. And so darned darling.

Sometimes Ted and I get each other similar gifts, without knowing that would happen. One year it was cozy bathrobes. This year it was art for our walls, at least sort of. I say sort of, because while he bought me a photograph/print to frame and hang, I bought him a set of frames to hang record albums. This is big for us, because we have such different taste in art, we have a lot of trouble finding anything to hang on our walls. He likes abstract art, geometrical with contrasting colors. I like flowers and more girly type things. I have a theory that he likes the contrasting colors because he’s somewhat color blind, and I like flowers and portraits because I’m girly.  See the beautiful picture of San Francisco and the cloudy sky up there?  That’s the picture he bought me.  I love it. I think it’s contrasting enough for him and pretty enough for me, is why it works.  It was taken by a friend of his, who does great work you can find here, if you’re so inclined.

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I love Jacques Pepin and enjoy watching his cooking shows on PBS. He has a new one now, ‘Heart and Soul’ that I’m enjoying enough that Ted gave me the cookbook for Christmas. Yay! One of the recipes was this one, which is a deconstructed sushi. I decided to give it a try the other day, and it was delishious. Our favorite grocery store has a sushi counter (don’t they all?) and they sell the spicy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger, so I bought those to add. It was really good, but I think the trout roe that I bought was a bit too fishy for me, so maybe I’d save myself a bit of money and not use that next time. But overall it was good.

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What else…well, I turned 50. Ted threw me a lovely party with family and friends, and we feasted on delicious lamb curry, curried pumpkin, and roti. So so so good. My friend Marilee was in Canada and couldn’t make it to my party, but she sent me the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen orchids this way before, but aren’t they amazing? I love them. Here we are a week later, and they’re still stunning.

What else…We’re enjoying Downton Abbey, and I’m looking forward to getting the DVD in a couple of weeks so we can forge ahead and binge watch. It’s how I started watching D.A., and really my preferred method.

We’ll see if I end up posting here more than I did last year. I certainly HOPE that I do, but I’m not going to make it a resolution or anything like that. Happy New Year, everyone.

Miscellaneous Stuff

Avo Bagel
Look at that awesome breakfast. Bagel, toasted, with avocado and lemon pepper. That’s it. So delicious. Served with OJ and tea (PG Tips, a bit of milk and sugar). One nice thing about Facebook is that some people post pictures of their food, and you can choose to be inspired by their pictures. I’m not sure I would have come up with this combination on my own, so thank you Facebook!

Then there’s this…the Gluten Free Museum. Famous paintings, with any offending gluten removed. Click the link to see more awesomeness.

Are you a fan of the ‘Little House’ books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder? If so, and if you like knowing the background behind these fictional books, I recommend the newly released “Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography“. It’s an amazing amount of research into almost every detail of Wilder’s unpublished autobiography, “Pioneer Girl”. Wilder first put her memories down and tried to publish them as “Pioneer Girl”, which is the story of her early life. The story is not written for children, and has some darker elements than the ‘Little House’ stories. The decision was made that the stories would better be told as children’s books, and Laura and her daughter Rose worked through the same material, and they turned into the ‘Little House’ stories that we all know and love. The difference between reality and fiction is sometimes jarring. That she had a little brother, who died as an infant, I knew. That the infamous Nellie Oleson was a composite of several girls in Laura’s youth, I knew. But that Jack, Laura’s beloved brindle bulldog and constant companion, was actually given away when Laura was 4…that was too much for me, and I thought I was going to have to breathe into a paper bag to keep from passing out.

If you’re looking for a good book to read, I really enjoyed ‘The Precious One‘, by Marisa de los Santos. I’ve read a couple of her other books, and I really enjoy them. They’re light enough to be an easy read, but I love her writing and her lovely use of language.  Without giving anything important away, this is the story of Taisy and Willow, sisters 18 years apart in age.  They share the same father, who is imperious and overwhelming and towers above their lives. They’ve only met once before, when Willow was a baby, when Taisy comes to stay for a short time at the request of their father.  Taisy is determined to find answers to how her father turned out to be the man he is, the kind of man who would leave her, her mother, and brother, and start over with a new wife and daughter.  Willow is focused on her dislike and jealousy of Taisy, and trying to navigate the treacherous waters of High School, after a life of being home schooled.

Ted and I went to see ‘Wild Tales‘, which was in town for about 15 minutes.  We’re fortunate that there’s one theater in town that plays independent and foreign films. I knew nothing about the movie going in, except that I wasn’t interested in any other movies that were playing, and that it was a foreign film. It’s a series of stories with a common theme, and that’s all I will say. Also, fairly dark, but not horrific, and pretty laugh out loud funny in some parts. Ted thought one woman in the audience was going to choke, she was laughing so hard. I’ll be watching for it to come to Netflix or something, so I can see it again.

Whew.   Now you’re all caught up.  I can’t believe it’s been so long since I’ve posted…I blame my iPad.  I don’t really like the WordPress app on it, so I get frustrated and don’t bother.  For this post, I pulled out my old laptop.  I should do this more often, clearly. I’ll leave you with the knowledge that Maya is now 19, and that we had a lovely weekend celebrating. Also, if you like to laugh, go look at this.

Friday Randomness


OK, I know I said I don’t care about baseball, or sports in general, but I must admit I got sucked into this series. The drama of it all captivated me, and the scores kept flopping from one team to the next. First SF kicked KC’s butt. Then KC kicked SF’s butt. Back and forth, and it sometimes felt like you weren’t watching the same teams from one night to the next. After the first game, when SF won 7 to 1, I was kind of disgusted with the local press. It was very smug and sure of SF superiority. Sort of like, “Of course we’re going to win, it’s an even year. That’s what we do.” It turned me off, and I was kind of hoping that Kansas City would teach San Francisco a thing or two. Which they did, the second night, when the score was 7 to 2, with Kansas City winning. Then it looked like SF was going to take the victory, with the next few games either close or SF winning. Until Tuesday’s game, when the Royals kicked the Giants butts, 10 to 0. Ouch. That one was painful to watch, and actually we gave up, took a walk, and did other things. Then there was Wednesday’s game 7, which was a real nail biter of a game. I’ll admit, I did other things while watching. But that 9th inning…Bottom of the 9th, Giants to Royals 3 – 2, a runner on 3rd base, two strikes, GAH. That is the drama of baseball. This guy whacks it hard enough, the game could be over. Or, it could go into a stupid amount of innings, like the game a few weeks ago that went 18 innings, and something like 6 1/2 hours. Blech. But no, the guy hit, Panda caught the ball, the game was over. We squeaked that one, and we learned a bit of humility along the way. Today’s the parade, which means traffic will be hell going into SF today. Glad I don’t commute, and I wish Ted didn’t have to.

I love Facebook. You may have read some of my blog posts about my time in Alaska, and I’ve mentioned my friend Amy Derocher, who lived across the street from us. Well, I discovered a group on Facebook the other day, “You know you’re from Fairbanks when…”, where people go to tell their tales. Mostly they fall into two camps, those who were there in the 50s and 60s, and remember the big flood, and those who harken back to the 80s, and talk about what store is now where another store used to be. I was only there for 5 years, from age 4 to age 9, in the early 70s. So anyway, I posted a link to a blog post I wrote several years ago, and Amy Derocher saw it and commented! Of course, I have her name spelled entirely wrong, both the Amy and the Derocher, but still, how wonderful! So we did some FB chatting between the two of us, and it turns out she lives in Santa Cruz, just a couple of hours from here, and she has a beautiful horse. I think I may have to go down there and visit sometime, and bring some pictures to share. Amazing.

I just started a new book, recommended by blog friend Simon, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, which may have the best first sentence I’ve ever come across. “My life might have been so different, had I not been known as the girl whose grandmother exploded.” So far, so good. I’m really enjoying it.

I’m also really enjoying watching “Call the Midwife” on Netflix. I recently noticed that many many of my Facebook friends were talking about it, how much they loved it, how well done it is, etc. So I thought I’d give it a try. If you haven’t seen it, if you like period dramas, I suggest you watch. It’s post war London, the East End, and there’s a group of nuns and nurses who serve as midwives to the community. It’s an era and neighborhood where there doesn’t appear to be any birth control, where women have baby after baby after baby, even though there’s not really enough money for one or two. There are, quite expectedly, lots of scenes of babies being born, all gooey with their umbilical cords looking all blue and alien. I love it. I love the characters and the story lines. It’s produced by BBC and shown on PBS here in America. The first 3 seasons are on Netflix.

Ted and I went to a movie and book shopping the other day. We saw “Dear White People”, which was very good, but maybe not as good as the reviews might lead you to believe. Still, I liked it quite a bit and I’m glad we saw it. We then went to Moe’s, an independent bookstore in Berkeley, which has been around since 1959. My parents likely went there often in their college days, amongst other places. I found several books I wanted, one of which I bought, Why Teach, a book that seems to conform very closely to my own beliefs about education…that the best major to be is an English major, because that’s where you learn to think and grow and be. (I was not an English major, I’ll admit. International Relations for undergrad, Comparative Literature for my Masters. Comp Lit is very similar to English, but the books you read are not American or English, they are instead from other countries.) That the current university system is doing students no favors by catering to them and praising them and inflating their grades, instead of teaching critical thought.
I also saw a couple of other books that I wanted, but couldn’t afford, so I wrote them down and put them on hold at the library. Better for the bank account, and also because we have little room in our house for books, sadly enough. I have the following books on hold:

  • Nine Inches: Stories ~ Tom Perotta
    I’ve read a couple of other books by Perotta, The Leftovers and Little Children. His subject matter is generally very dark, but I like his writing and am interested to read his short stories.
  • Let Me Be Frank With You ~ Richard Ford
    I read what I think is Ford’s most recent book (until this one), Canada, which I really enjoyed. This one is going back to a character he’s had in other books, Frank Bascombe. I read Independence Day, which has the same character, but I don’t think I’ve read The Sportswriter.
  • The Bone Clocks ~ David Mitchell
    I loved Cloud Atlas, the only other book of Mitchell’s that I’ve read. I’m looking forward to reading this one.
  • This is the Story of a Happy Marriage ~ Ann Patchett
    I think my favorite Ann Patchett book was Bel Canto, though I’ve read a few others as well.
  • California ~ Edan Lepucki
    Now we’re getting to a new author, at least for me. I’ve not read anything by Lepucki before, but I keep hearing really great things about this book, so I’m hopeful. I’m number 75 on the list, so it will be awhile.

  • The Goldfinch ~ Donna Tartt
    Another new author for me. I keep seeing this one on the best seller lists in the Sunday paper, so I thought I’d give it a go.
  • Damage ~ Felix Francis
    This is the newest by Felix Francis, son of the late mystery writer, Dick Francis. Dick Francis wrote dozens of mysteries, all relating to his first love, horse racing. After his wife died, Dick started pairing up with his son, Felix, and they would write stories together. Then when Dick passed away, Felix kept the tradition going. I won’t say I like his writing just as much as his father’s, but really it’s very close, and I do enjoy being a part of that world. I don’t actually have this one on hold, Ted’s aunt does. But she lives in my same town, and she reads quite quickly, so she’ll read it, pass it to me, and I’ll tear through it before it’s due back at the library. Yay!

Speaking of Ted’s Aunt, Sondra, she works as the office manager at Maya’s old elementary school, which is a public charter Montessori school. I used to be on the board of directors there, and when they were looking for an office manager, I suggested they interview her, as they needed someone organized to come in and straighten things up, and Sondra is without question the most organized person I know. She started working there in 2005. Fast forward to today, and Maya has been working at Forever 21, and hating it. Hating that she works until 11:00 on Friday and Saturday nights, dreading working on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday and during Christmas break when her friends are home from college. Ted and I don’t like the thought of her walking around the downtown parking garages at that time of night, either, so we end up picking her up after work. Not fun, since we’re old and don’t necessarily want to stay up that late every weekend. So a few weekends ago, I was having lunch with Sondra, and she asked me if I thought Maya might like to come and work at the Montessori, doing after school child care. Um, Yes Please! Maya loved the idea. She truly wanted OUT of F21, but didn’t want to go from having a paycheck to no money (we stopped giving her an allowance…), and this sounded like much better hours. So she applied, which pretty much meant giving them her resume, and she was hired, based on Auntie Sondra’s good word. Nepotism rocks! So she works 3 days a week after school, and is off work at 6, and has weekends free to study or go out with her friends, no holiday working, all of that. Very good news indeed.

Next week is the elections. All of the pundits seem to be predicting a big win for the republicans in the Senate. I hope not. I haven’t even really looked at my voter guide yet, to figure out how I’m going to vote on propositions and so on. I guess I have my homework for the weekend.

I just got an email from Ted…he met Jacques Pepin today! He has been in San Francisco, recording his new TV Show, “Heart and Soul” for KQED, and was at Ted’s radio station to be interviewed. GAH! I’m so envious. I’ve loved Jacques for years. Remember when he had his cooking show, Cooking with Claudine, where he cooked with his daughter? The show where he cooked with his dear friend Julia Child? Sigh. Why not me? He’s like a rock star in my world.

Friday Randomness (again)

Here I am, one week into my paid sabbatical.  The first few nights, I confess that I had nightmares about things happening and not knowing what was going on.  Those were lame and boring, and I’ve let them go by the wayside.

Friday we went to a couple of movies…the first being the new Woody Allen film, which was OK, but I’m not a huge Woody Allen fan, and I confess I started to fall asleep.   Ted bought be a frozen latte, and we went back in for round two, which was Boyhood again.  Really liked it the second time.   Saturday we went on an interesting hike.  The highway that runs up and down the California coast is Hwy 1, and there’s a stretch just south of San Francisco called Devil’s Slide.  So named because the treacherous roadway has been partly washed away during many a storm, and when you don’t have to worry about the roadway below you falling into the angry ocean, there’s always the rocks above falling down and crushing you.  Not good, very dangerous.  Several years ago, someone finally raised money to build some tunnels through the rock slightly to the east of Hwy 1, and thus circumvent this particular danger.  After they finished, they converted the old Hwy 1 into a hiking/biking trail.  Hopefully no one will be stupid enough to go biking or hiking in the midst of a big winter storm, so the danger should be minimized.  Though I do wonder at the expense of maintaining it merely for pedestrians.  Oh well.   We read about this months ago when it first opened, and thought it might be interesting to go some day and look at the stunning beauty of the Pacific ocean without the speed of being in a car.  So we did, and it was lovely and interesting and almost worth the traffic we were stuck in getting there.  Here’s a picture of the roadway at its worst, after a storm in 1995.

So that was interesting, and Ted wrote about it here.   I really liked the sight of a lone cypress tree hanging on to the side of a rock on the wrong side of the mountain….it made me think it was saying, “What?  How did I end up HERE?  Get me DOWN!”  Ted has pictures of that, and also pictures from Sutro Heights, a tiny park up above the Cliff House in San Francisco, about which I’ve read several times, but hadn’t seen myself until that day.  It was a good day.

Maya came home, tired and happy, after her visit to New York.  Now she wants to move there, and has decided that we should all move there together.  I like New York quite a bit, so perhaps if I win several million dollars, she’s on.   Then again, we also saw some gorgeous homes right next to the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where we went when my sister and her family were visiting on Monday.  The Palace is gorgeous, and I would simply adore to live in that neighborhood.  Maya says it’s the home of the 1%, though I suspect she is wrong on that one.  It’s the home of the 10%.  Really well off doctors, some investment types, but probably some people do actually work for a living.  Anyway, we spent some time with my family, enjoyed the kids, getting to know my sister’s boyfriend a bit more, seeing swans in the pond, that sort of thing.

Then we came home and ran back out again, to go to dinner with Maya’s girl scout troop.  This was their final outing as a troop, and it was bittersweet.  They’ve been together like this for 10 years, and it’s sad to see them break up.  But also, nice to see them grow up, which is what causes the break.  They took last year’s cookie money, and spent every penny of it on dinner (and appetizers, and drinks, and desserts) for themselves and their moms, and one grandma who has been the treasurer for the troop this whole time.  It was really nice.  Shocking how much we spent, but a nice hurrah for the group.  As the leader for the last 2 or 3 years, I should have written a nice speech or something, but since every mom there has been the troop leader at some point, it didn’t seem appropriate, and I hate giving speeches.  So we just let it go.

So far, this sabbatical thing has been working out pretty well.  I’ve gotten some chores done, and more on my list.  Some socializing done, and more on my list.  I finished my book (Beloved, which was devastating), and have started another.  I’ve had a nap or two, and have gotten some exercise.  I can only imagine how quickly these next 3 weeks are going to fly by, but I intend to enjoy them for now.  Happy Friday.

Friday Randomness

What’s new, Pussycat? Anything exciting going on? Interesting stuff on the internet? Stupid politicians doing stupid things, another mass shooting to piss us off and bring us further down into despair. Maybe Prince George got another tooth or Kimye said something arrogant.  I’m going to stick my head in the sand and ignore it all for the moment.

Ted and I celebrated 21 years together last week. Wait, no…it was our 21st wedding anniversary. We were clearly together prior to our marriage. He worked, I worked, and we went out for a lovely dinner in the evening. It was really nice, though the restaurant wasn’t firing on all cylinders this time. But it’s always nice to get dressed up and go out for a fancy meal, and spend time together.

Maya and I chopped off a bunch of hair.  I had 6 or 7 inches cut off, she had maybe 10 cut.  I think mine is perhaps an inch shorter than I would have liked, but rest assured, it will be an inch longer relatively soon.  Looking at their records, it appears I am so lazy that I only get my hair cut every 6 months.  Not good for the whole idea of shape and style, is it? Maya’s looks gorgeous.  She had a lot of split ends, and they’re all gone.  Her ombre is gone.  She looks more mature, less like a high school student, more like a college student.  That’s a good thing.

We celebrated the 4th with a small family bbq. I made a really good lamb kefta dog, for which I will provide the recipe soonly. SO GOOD. Maya went out to see fireworks with friends, Ted and I stayed home and watched fireworks on TV. We’re kind of late bloomers, as a family, to the whole ‘kid staying out late with her friends’ thing. I think part of that is because of the driving requirements in California. Minors have to have their license for a year before they can drive with other minors in the car. It seems as though a lot of kids these days aren’t in any rush to get their license, which pushes it back further. Maya got her license in August of last year, when she was almost 17 1/2. She can now drive with other kids in her car, because she turned 18 in March. So anyway, now that school has gotten out, and the stress of all of that is behind them, they seem to have plans almost every day. I think another part of it is that many kids are going away to college, so they are feeling poignant towards each other, feeling like they are going to disperse into the wind in their many different directions. And of course, they are. Thankfully, quite a few of Maya’s good friends are going to Berkeley, so they will be close.

Cramping her style and social schedule, but padding the pocketbook, today is Maya’s first day at her new job. She’s working in retail, which was her first choice. She’s hoping to keep the job once she starts college, though very part time. I agree with that. I think she’s starting to see what you can do if you have a little cash in your bank account, and that a job will take her further than the piddly allowance she gets from us.

Sitting on the sidelines of all of these changes is interesting. Probably not interesting for you, my poor readers, but it is for me. It’s strange to have my child come home hours after I’ve gone to bed. It’s strange to know that she and her friends are hours away hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains, and there was no need for parent involvement at all. It’s liberating for all of us.

We have some good friends, Paul and Marilee, who had tickets to see New Order in concert tonight, but now cannot use them. They gave us the tickets, so Ted and I will be going to SF for the concert. I seem to remember that we saw New Order in concert once before, many many years ago, and that they were kind of boring. Hopefully they will be good tonight…I like a lot of their music, and I remember being really into them in the mid to late 80s. Guessing the crowd will be mostly our age, which will probably make me feel kind of old. I was in my early 20s when I first got into New Order, and here I am, creeping up towards 50. Inconceivable. (I do not think that word means what you think it means.)

Reading has been hit or miss lately. I’ve had 4 library books, 2 of which I tore through in a day each, and the other 2 I couldn’t get into at all and gave up. Both by authors whose work I have really enjoyed in the past, so it’s a little disappointing.  Maybe I’ll write about those soon…nice to have some blog fodder, right?

LinkedIn suggested to me that perhaps I might know my mother, and that I should email her and ask her to connect with me there.  Wouldn’t that be cool?  To link up with our dearly departed through the ether of the internet, and keep in touch that way?  So much of my relationship with my mom was online anyway, with her living in Alaska and me in California.  We did talk on the phone, but emails and blogs were less expensive and provided different conversations.  I reported to LinkedIn that she has passed away, and they told me that at some point I had uploaded an address book, which I do not remember doing, and the email they had for her was not one that I had ever seen before (it was for a job she had, and I never contacted her there).  Anyway, I accepted.  I’ll let you know if she replies, thus ending the whole “is there life after death” debate once and for all.

Friday Randomness (belated…)

Graduation Invitation
Isn’t that a cute Graduation Invite, for a proud parent to send out to invite her friends and family to show off her daughter, and celebrate said daughter’s accomplishment in school? Yes, it is. See how cute, the picture of her Kindergarten graduation? Her official Senior photo (in my great aunt’s pearls), her other, casual Senior photos? Sigh. The thing is, Maya doesn’t want a graduation party. She doesn’t want to hang out with a bunch of Ted and my friends, feeling self-conscious because everyone is looking at her. She and her friends will have been partying at the ‘All Knighter’ (They’re the Knights), and she’d rather go from party to party at her friend’s houses. I don’t blame her. But still, I’m a little disappointed. I have attended parties for several of my friends’ kids, and I enjoyed them. I enjoyed admiring the graduating senior, hearing about their plans going forward, all of that. I want my friends to enjoy that coming to see my child. So here I am, letting it go. LETTING IT GO. It’s her graduation, not mine. I’ll have a party later in the summer with my friends, and we will have a lovely time. They will admire my child, not because it is her graduation, but because they love her, and they love me. So there.

Friday afternoon, our front door lock broke. Always on a Friday, right? Of a holiday weekend? That’s when the kid comes down with a fever (though generally they wait until the doctor’s office is closed), the stove/air conditioner/hot water heater goes out, that kind of thing. All things you want fixed NOW, and you will have to wait until Monday. I’ve heard that what duct tape doesn’t fix, WD-40 will, I tried oiling the dead bolt. No help. (The issue was that the dead bolt would only come out about 1/5 of the way, not the full extended way.) So I took the door knob thing apart (two little screws were all that was needed), figured out what was wrong, then went to look in my ‘fix everything around the house’ book that my Grandmother gave us years ago. No help at all. None. So I took the pieces to my local Ace hardware store, hoping that they could either tell me how to fix it, or sell me a replacement. Nope. However, at 4:40 in the afternoon, they gave me a recommendation to a local locksmith. Across town. So I called them and asked them if they could maybe stay open until I got there. They helpfully said yes. Across town I sped, thankfully against the afternoon traffic. I got there at 4:55, before they even had to stay late. The locksmith took one look and said, “Nope, can’t fix it. The part that’s broken, they don’t sell just that part.” So we looked at the several options. One was $15, but very temporary. One was $300, and required us installing the new door stuff ourselves. The fact that I call it ‘door stuff’ should inform you about how good I am at this stuff. Ted is better at it than I am, but he’s not a handyman, he’s an academic. The third option was to pick a different brand of hardware (aka, door stuff), which would be cheaper on the parts, but would mean drilling and painting our stupid door. Blech. So here I am, it’s 5:05 on Friday of a three-day weekend, and I’m frustrated. Finally, the locksmith said, “There’s another option. I can remove the broken part, which isn’t necessary. The broken part, being broken, is getting in the way of the rest of the mechanism. It will certainly get you through the weekend, and it may even work long term.” OK, I’m in. Why couldn’t he have suggested this to begin with, I wondered. However, all I said was, “How much?” Free. I love that price. I said no, he should be paid for his time and expertise, and he said no. So he took out the broken part (which required some expertise to do), and I took it home and put it back together. The door knob is looser, doesn’t fit just the same anymore, but it works. It works well, locks properly, and was free. So I went on FB and yelp and gave full props to the locksmith, hoping maybe I could pay them back in some way. If the solution falls apart and it turns out that we need something more, they’ve earned my business and I’ll go back to get a long term solution.

This morning, Maya had a job working for one of her teachers (who has a successful side business, Pinot Days, very wine related), so while she went and took care of that, Ted and I went and ran errands. We went and picked up the badges earned by Maya’s Girl Scout troop, then to breakfast at a place we haven’t been to before. It was tasty. It was a little expensive for a semi-fast food breakfast place, but the quality of the food was good. We liked it. Then we went to the farmers’ market and got the essentials…strawberries, nectarines, and eggs. We ran a few more errands, then came home, and I took a delicious nap. Saturdays can be lovely indeed.

The other day I went to the video store…we still have a video store we love to try to keep open. I picked up a DVD, ‘Labor Day’, with Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin. For some reason, I knew nothing about the film, and thought it might be a romantic comedy. It wasn’t. It was closer to a love story. Josh Brolin is an escaped convict, convicted of murdering his wife and child, who forces his way into the home of Kate Winslet and her young teen son. He’s camping out for a few days. The pace is slow, the acting superb, the story not quite as dramatic as you might want, but at the same time, because of that, it seems more real. We really liked it a lot.

I’m reading the new ‘David Sedaris’ book, borrowed from our library. I like it a lot, though I can’t plow through it as quickly as needed for the online rental. We’ll see how I do, if I finish in time.

In other news, I tried a new quinoa recipe. YUM. So good. I’ll post it here soon. It had pickled onions, nectarines, and arugula. Really good.

Enjoy your weekend.

Still Alive

Still Alive
Yes, I’m still alive. I know, it’s been awhile. I hate writing that at the beginning of a blog post, but somehow, I find myself doing it more and more often. Today I took a few minutes and looked at blogs that I link to from my blogroll. So many of them are defunct, or might as well be. Last post in 2011, 2012, 2013. I should clean them up, move them out. But I don’t use an RSS reader or anything like that. My way of checking to see if you have a new blog post is to click my link, and go look. So I keep them. I want to see if some of you come back to blogging. Who knows…it could happen.

As is often the case when a household consists of two adults and a teen, most of the news around here is about the teen. Let’s see. Well, in one crappy week, she was in her first car accident, and had her first flat tire. Thankfully, the car accident was a tiny fender bender, and no one was hurt. Of course, nowadays a tiny fender bender still means a new bumper, new grill, etc. It wasn’t her fault, so the other insurance company paid for the repairs. Perhaps she could have avoided the accident if she had been paying closer attention, perhaps not. She was parking, and the other driver backed out of a parking place and into the front of our car. She didn’t see it coming, because she was looking into another row for a place there. So I’m glad she learned the lesson of paying better attention now, and in a safe place without getting hurt. Sadly, part of the lesson was that people can be jerks, as the woman who hit her got out of the car and yelled at her. The flat tire came the next week. Don’t know what she hit, or if maybe it was just the tire’s time. What she didn’t know was what a flat tire felt like, so she continued driving, wanting to get home. Bad move, but again, we were lucky and her driving on a flat didn’t cause any damage to the wheel. So…she’s learned a few things about auto stuff lately.

Also, she had her first opportunity to vote! We had a tiny little special election here, to renew a bond measure for the local high school district. I was unsure as to WHY they chose to have a mail-in ballot in May, when there is a much larger election scheduled for June, which will surely attract a much larger voting population. We (Ted and I) decided that it must be because they felt like they would get a better, more dedicated vote than they would get from the general public. Whether that was the reason for the strategy or not, it worked, and the bond measure passed. So the local high schools will continue to be well funded.

Which chaps my hide. Don’t get me wrong, I voted for it. I want the schools to be well funded. But it’s frustrating to the nth to me that this is how our schools work. You live in a wealthy enclave, and the people vote to support the schools. Why? Because it’s OUR KIDS. But a vote to support the schools on a larger, state wide, basis? A vote that would make the schools a bit more equal? Hell no. Why would we want to vote to support OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS? Grrr. I miss the days back when I grew up, when schools were better funded, there was money for things like school buses, art, PE, etc., without having to tap different areas for different amounts of money.

So anyway, she voted, we voted, and the measure passed. That was a mail in election, and the next one will be a walk in election. I have, in the past, requested a mail in ballot, because gosh, it’s just SO DARNED EASY. Deep down, though, I can’t get past the idea that maybe they don’t bother to count those votes. Also, I kind of like the ritual of going into the little ballot box and marking the ballot myself. I liked when we lived in Philly, and you made your selections, then pulled a big lever down that punched holes or something. That was pretty satisfying.

We received news that Maya was awarded a scholarship for $1,000 from Burger King, which is funny because we don’t eat much fast food. I’m the junk food junkie in the house, and I don’t eat it THAT often. I think she’s probably been to BK twice in her life. But anyway, we applied for the scholarship, and she received it, which is great news. $1,000 now will pay for most of a semester’s expenses at a community college, as long as you live at home. Tuition and books. Which brings me back to my earlier point about funding the schools. Back until the mid-80s, community colleges in California were free. Then in 1985, they started charging tuition, which was a flat $50, no matter how many courses or units you took. When I transferred to San Francisco State University, it was about $450 a semester for tuition. My friend Janet transferred from community college to UC Berkeley, and her tuition was a little over $700. So a semester at a community college now is about the cost of a semester at Cal back in the late 80s. Which would be very well and good if wages had gone up that much, but of course they haven’t. Wages are higher, but the minimum wage has about doubled, which college costs have exceeded that at an alarming rate. She’s applied for a few more scholarships, and we’re hoping to get her next semester’s fees paid for as well. If we can avoid dipping into the little bit of savings that we have until she goes to a four year as a JR, that would be great.

Which brings me to my next thought. Really, a brag. The same week as her AP test, I found another local scholarship I thought she should apply for. One that required her to write 2 very short essays, get letters of recommendation, and have a resume. Being the quick turnaround time (2 days), I offered to write the resume for her, as she’s never done one for herself, and she had the AP exam to study for. I’m impressed. There are surely kids who have done more, and kids who have done less. But she’s an AP Scholar with a strong GPA, is a member of 3 clubs at her school (for 2 of them, she’s co-president), she’s been a cheerleader, in the school choir, and on the school paper. She’s volunteered over and over again (mostly through Girl Scouts) to wonderful organizations that help children, animals, and adults in rough times. I wish my resume had looked like that at her age. Mine was more like, “Two years at Mr. Steak, three years in the Dungeons and Dragons club, crappy GPA, decent test scores”. So yes, I’m proud.

Along with the end of High School (she graduates June 13th) comes the Senior Ball next weekend, and the end of Girl Scouts. She’s been involved for 10 years now, and I am so glad that she joined, and that she stuck with it for this long. The troop has dwindled down to 5 girls, and they don’t see each other or keep in touch the way they once did. But they’re still close, and have shared wonderful experiences. They have put in a lot of time, volunteering, camping, working on badges. I hope they are forever friends, even if that means the kind of friends who keep in touch online only, once in awhile. They’re all great girls, doing wonderful things with their lives, and I’m proud of them all. This next chapter will be an exciting one for them indeed.

My life? Not as exciting, but still pretty good. We went to Stockton a few weeks ago to celebrate my Great-Aunt’s 90th birthday. My Great-Aunt, who was in the delivery room with my mom when I was born. She took me on a trip with her and her daughter in the late 70s. We drove through Yosemite (drought, so no waterfalls), up to Tahoe, and had a great time. She loaned me money to pay that first $450 tuition check at San Francisco State, because my mom had no money and I had blithely moved out, gone out on my own with no money to my name, trusting that all would work out. Somehow it did. My roommate’s father loaned us money for first/last/security deposits. My great Aunt payed my tuition. My friend’s parents let me sleep on their sofa until we had our apartment, and while I started my job and got money for school books. Looking back, I can’t believe I got away with it.

I have a new computer for work. I love it. It’s faster, and a newer operating system. What I like the most about it is that it’s a laptop, which means when it gets hot here, I can work downstairs where it’s much cooler. My office is in the bedroom, which is upstairs and gets full on afternoon sun, which is lovely in the cold of winter, and fine until the temps get to be about 85 or 90. Once it’s 90 degrees outside, and 3:00 or so with the sun beating through the window full force, it gets to be about 80 downstairs, and I don’t know how much hotter upstairs, but I start sweating while at my desk, which I DO NOT LIKE. I don’t like turning on the A/C when the sun is hitting that room, it feels like it’s fighting a losing battle. I’d prefer to wait until the sun goes down, and then turn on the A/C if need be to cool the bedroom down enough for sleep. Now, when I’m upstairs, I have a docking station for the laptop, which means a huge monitor (good for my aging eyes), a full sized keyboard, and a mouse. Downstairs, I can bring all of that if I really want to, or I can just bring the laptop down with me. It’s great.

This coming weekend, my parents are coming for a very quick visit. They live in Portland. My step-mom is a big wig in the yoga community, and owns a very successful yoga studio there. One of the museums in SF has an exhibit about the birth of yoga, so they’re coming down on Friday, seeing the exhibit on Saturday, going home on Sunday. Maya’s Senior Ball is Saturday night, so we’re not available that day, but we will go into the City and have dinner with them Friday night. I’m excited to try the fancy French restaurant where we have a reservation, and of course I’m excited to see them.

That seems like enough for now. I did try a nice sausage and polenta recipe the other day that I may share soon, and we might go to a movie for Mother’s Day tomorrow. If we see something worth seeing, I’ll let you know.

Friday Randomness


I’ve been off almost all week. Tuesday I thought it was Wednesday, Wednesday I thought it was Thursday, and Thursday I thought it was Friday. But finally, Friday is here. Yay Friday! This will be a busy weekend for us, because…

Tomorrow is Maya’s birthday! She turns 18, which is INSANE. I cannot believe my baby will legally be an adult. She can gamble, see R rated movies, whatever she wants to do. Every year I find myself reminiscing about those early days…so 18 years ago today, I was going into the hospital. I spent the night, and was induced in the morning. Gross, but effective. OK, gross is not the right word. The right word is pain inducing, which is, I guess, the entire point. So 18 years ago, the whole thing was starting to hit me, that I was going to have to go through this, that I was going to have to get my baby safely out of my body. Terrifying.

So tonight is her birthday party with her school friends. They’re going to dinner without an adult to accompany them. Symbolic I guess. I hope they have a great time.

Tomorrow will be the family party. Maya loves Ted’s lamb curry, so we’re having lamb curry, chickpea curry, curried pumpkin, roti (aka, naan), rice, and appetizers. It will be a lot of fun, as always.

Yesterday was Meals-on-Wheels. One of the couples on my route has a big bush out front, with lovely birds of paradise. They let me cut some blooms to decorate the house for Maya’s birthday party. I love the vibrant orange, with the hint of purple. I was thinking I would buy some irises to put with it, and how that might look nice. Guess what? Maya came home from school with a bouquet of irises. She has NEVER come home with flowers for no reason before. Synchronicity! They’re lovely.

Before the flowers, yesterday was kind of a crummy day. I can’t point to anything specific…just kind of work wasn’t going great, I was tired, I don’t know. But then Ted’s mom called and said, “I have some crab for you, still alive it’s so fresh”, and she appeared with crab. YUM. We had delicious crab with ciabatta bread, chardonnay, and salad for dinner. I got flowers from my MoW folks, and then from Maya. I had two things I wanted to get done for work before the end of the day, things that have been hanging over me and bugging me. I am taking next week off from work, and I wanted to get things done before going. Happily enough, it worked, I got the chores done, and now they are off of my plate before my week off. Right when I was getting ready to put dinner together (very quick, as I had already cooked and chilled the crab), Maya said she was going to go for a walk. After she left, I considered sitting down and having a glass of wine and reading my book. Then I thought, “No, I’m going for a walk too.” So I did, which felt good and took away that tired feeling. So the day started out kind of bleh, and came out really nice.

What else…well, Maya has been accepted into 4 good colleges. She didn’t get into one (very competitive) school, and is wait listed at another. I’m SO proud of her. She has worked so hard on all of this, with her AP classes and volunteer work and so on, and now it has paid off. The frustrating part is that, so far, there isn’t enough financial aid coming in, so she may end up going to a community college for the first two years. I was fine with that for me, and Ted was fine with that for him, but neither of us were so focused or hard working as she is. We SO wish that we could afford to send her to a 4-year right out the door. There’s still a chance…she has applied for a couple of scholarships, we haven’t gotten financial aid offers from 2 schools, what if she lives at home, etc. Chances are it will be community college, and if that’s the case, she will do well there. But we’re holding out hope still for a 4-year to work out in the next month.

I took next week off, because I haven’t really had any time off since December, and I like to take a couple off weeks off every year. OK, more than a couple. A few. This will be spring break for Maya. She is taking an art class, and one thing they have to do is to go to either a museum or a gallery, and report on a work of art. The SF Legion of Honor has an exhibit starting today, Impressionism from the National Gallery of Art. It’s stupid expensive, but I’d like to see it anyway. The first Tuesday of the month is free (not for this exhibit, but at least the general museum admission), so I’d like to go do this on Tuesday. I’m not sure what else we’ll do…maybe go to the ocean, though it’s colder now than it was in February. Not cold, but colder. It’s been raining off and on over the last week, which is delicious and lovely. Not really enough to end the drought, by any means, but every bit helps.

Speaking of which, I described the crummy showers we’re taking, right? It has paid off. Governor Brown asked that everyone cut their water use by 20%. We already have low flow toilets and a high efficiency front load washing machine, and we don’t have a lawn or any trees, so that’s kind of all we can do. We received our first bill since cutting back the other day, and our water use has been cut by 21%. Yay us!

I’ve been reading about this drought, and how difficult it is going to be on farmers. California has really taken advantage of the demand for almonds, and a lot of fields that used to grow other produce now have almond orchards and grape vines. All very well and good when there’s enough water, but one thing about orchards and vineyards is that you can’t leave the fields fallow in dry years. The trees take years to grow and become productive. With tomatoes or lettuce or whatever, you can leave the field fallow and not grow anything during a drought. But with trees and vines, they need water, no matter what. So look for your California products to get pricey this summer and so on. Careers are falling apart, people are losing their farms, trees are dying, cattle are dying. It’s ugly. So yeah, I’m enjoying the rain, and I wish that it could somehow be enough to solve a few problems.

Lastly, on a lighter note, did anyone watch ‘True Detectives’ on HBO? We binge watched after the season ended. I really liked it a lot. Ted was a little disappointed by the finale, but I liked it. Really interesting storytelling, really good acting, all of that.

Friday Randomness

rain.
Isn’t that a beautiful graphic? It’s been raining here, a bit, and I’m hopeful that the high pressure system that has been over California for the last few months may have broken apart, and we may get some relief from our drought conditions. I don’t know what this means to the Coho Salmon, which may go extinct in much of California, because the rivers have been too dry for them to swim to their spawning ground. I hope the rain doesn’t come too late for them.

We’re still taking drought showers, until there is enough rain that the official drought conditions are lifted. Which of course, 2 or 3 little storms is unlikely to change. But I’m hoping for more more more.

I’ll not even complain that this weekend’s storm will likely come as I am picking up Girl Scout cookies on Saturday morning, driving to visit friends Saturday afternoon, while Maya is touring a local college on Sunday, and while I am with the rest of the GS troop selling cookies in front of a grocery store on Sunday. I mean, one could WISH that it would rain plenty, but really only when it’s convenient for me, but that’s not too likely, is it?

Do you ever suffer from brown guacamole? You’ve made or purchased some, but you can’t eat it all (or perhaps you could, but you somehow don’t, and then it goes in the fridge, and within a matter of hours, it’s got a thin brown film on top? Gross, right? So you skim off the film, regretting the waste of such deliciousness, and then you finally manage to just get over it, because hey, there’s still good guacamole under there. Well, I have the solution to your problem. No, it’s not to leave an avocado pit in the guac, because while that helps a bit, not all of the guac is touching the pit, so it doesn’t work. No, it’s not squeezing lime juice on the guac. No, it’s not cling wrap (which maybe used to work, but today’s cling wrap is not your mother’s cling wrap, and is more porous, so lets in air). Instead, put your leftover guacamole into an airtight container, smash it down to get rid of air pockets, then gently pour in just enough water to cover the guac. Perhaps 1/8 of an inch over the top. THEN, squeeze a bit of lime into the water. Seal the container, and put it in your fridge. By golly, it works! When you are ready for more guacamole, just pour off the water, give a stir, and you’re in business. For best results, put your guacamole in a container that is deeper than it is wide. Like maybe a mason jar. This limits surface area, so you don’t need to use as much water. I’ll admit, I thought the guacamole might get watery, but it really doesn’t. We had quesadillas for dinner one night this week. Quesadillas are good, but for me, they’re really an excuse to eat guacamole. So I opened the package of pre-made guacamole that I had purchased (considered making my own, but this was on sale, buy one get one free, and it’s a brand that I like a lot), ate some with my quesadillas, and put the method to the test. 3 days later, still as green as the day it was born. So glad I could help you with my problem. I read something about the water part somewhere, and then I happened upon this post, which adds the second step of lime juice. Brilliant.

Happy, rainy Friday everyone! I hope you have a fabulous weekend.

What I did on my Christmas Vacation


I took a bit of a vacation from work (and, apparently, from blogging), which was relaxing and delightful.  We didn’t do any traveling this year, and mostly kept ourselves home bound.  So, what did I do with myself?

Christmas was lovely, spending time with family, a delicious feast, wonderful gifts.

Then my favorite week, the week between Christmas and New Year, which is mighty relaxing.   So, what did I do with this week of grace?  Let’s see…

  1. Delivered Meals on Wheels.  I considered taking the time off from this activity, but discovered that many regular drivers do, so they were looking for volunteers.  So I drove both on the 26th and the 2nd, both of which I enjoyed.  I do love driving this route.  One of the old ladies (she’s 98) asked me whether I have some people on my route who are grumpy.  I can see why she would ask.  Getting old isn’t fun.  But truthfully, they’re all grateful and happy to see me.  Perhaps that’s the difference between volunteering and being paid for a job, I don’t know.
  2. Gave blood.  Blech, I do hate this job.  I hate it.  I try to convince myself that I don’t, but I do.  But you know what?  I only hate it until the moment they take that goddamned needle out of my arm.  Then it’s the best feeling ever, knowing that I’ve truly saved someone’s life.  Really, it’s the best thing ever, and it doesn’t cost me a penny.
  3. Maya and I went to return a sweater that I bought her for Christmas.  She said she already has another that looks exactly like it (perhaps why I bought it…it just LOOKED like something she would wear).  It was a longish drive, and then the return/exchange, and then lunch.  Lovely afternoon with her.  Of course, the store didn’t have a single thing she could possibly want (Ann Taylor), so she had me use the exchange to get something for myself.  Love that kid.
  4. Did some shopping with Ted as well.  He was returning a sweater I bought him (wrong size) (clearly my shopping skills are lacking), and also buying me some birthday gifts.  So I accompanied him for the return, then found a quiet place to eat a pretzel and read my book while he shopped for me.  Nice feeling.
  5. Watched a few movies.  I told you about Ted’s SAG awards voting, so we were able to watch a few.  We saw “12 Years a Slave” (depressing);  “Dallas Buyers Club” (depressing);  “American Hustle” (great performances, not so sure the story was fabulous…Amy Adams should win much, though); “August: Osage County (Maya and I really liked this, Ted wasn’t so sure); “Captain Phillips” (boring to me, sorry, though excellent performances).
  6. Celebrated my birthday…went for a hike around a local reservoir (picture above), which was lovely.  Had a picnic of sandwiches from our favorite local sandwich shop, and then later had a feast of cracked crab, garlic noodles, french bread, salad, and chardonnay for dinner.  Some people say chardonnay is not the right wine for Dungeness crab, that Sauvignon Blanc is truly the way to go.   Fie to them, they know not what they speak.  Though of course, champagne would be good, wouldn’t it?
  7. Accomplished chores around the house.  There are times when I look around and am reminded of lyrics from an old(ish) song by The Wallflowers.
      “Well this place is old
      It feels just like a beat up truck
      I turn the engine, but the engine doesn’t turn
      Well it smells of cheap wine & cigarettes
      This place is always such a mess
      Sometimes I think I’d like to watch it burn”

    That’s how I feel when things are getting on my nerves around here, and I want to fix them, but there’s no time or money or energy or whatever.  So, with my time off, I tackled a few that were within my means.  I cleaned out and reorganized a kitchen cupboard full of metal bowls, cupcake tins, fake Tupperware, baking dishes, etc.  That task seemed huge (because it was so annoying), but didn’t take very long.  That got me started cleaning the kitchen, clearing and wiping down the counters, cleaning out the refrigerator, all of that.  Which motivated Maya to vacuum the house, and to clean up the back yard of the horrid Eucalyptus leaves from our neighbor’s stupid tree.  Cleaned the mirrored closet doors in our bedrooms, which I do NOT love, but we installed to make our rooms look bigger and more modern when we were trying to sell lo those many years ago.  Removed the annoying and squeaky bed frame from our bed.  I don’t like the look of a mattress on the floor, it looks poor to me.  But I like it more than I like waking up 6 times a night, every time one of us turns over in our sleep, because of the noise.  We’ll figure out a long term solution later, but for now, we’re sleeping much more peacefully, and our pillowtop mattress is so thick, we’re not right down on the ground anyway.  Then I took on the most mighty task of all.  Cleaning and re-grouting the bathtub.  What a horrid task.  Bending over that long makes my back ache, and cleaning the old grout out is a huge task.  I hate it.  But not as much as I hate the look of the old clear grout that was there before, looking dirty and horrid.  So I did it.  Does it look good?  Yes!  As long as you don’t wear your contact lenses, so you don’t see where I was crooked or smeared silicone with my application.  But it looks SO much better than it did, so I’m happy.

  8. Put away the Christmas decorations.  I miss them a bit, but I do like how clean and light the house looks with them put away.  We still have the wreath on the door…I’m not ready to throw that away yet.  Maybe I’ll wait until Epiphany.  Or June.  We’ll see.
  9. Most auspiciously, Maya and I (I put in the checking account number, so I get to be included) sent in her applications to college.  Gah, when did she get so grown up?  It’s a little horrid.  And very beautiful.  I love having a teen, an almost adult.  It’s a poignant time.  Not always fun, not always sad, but poignant.  She’s applying to 6 very good private colleges, where she hopes to study English.  Money is tight, so if she doesn’t get a full ride, she’ll be home with us for 2 more years, at our local community college.  I don’t know what to hope for.  There are pluses and minuses either way.   I guess I just want whatever is best for her.  The fact that her first choice college is 3,000 miles away sucks, but that’s what we get for living on the West Coast.  There are so many more opportunities back East, I fear.

Those were my adventures and accomplishments.  I hope you had relaxing holidays.  Yesterday was back to work, which was fine by me.  I enjoyed my time off, but it was OK getting back into the swing of things, too.  I guess that’s the mood of January, isn’t it?  Getting back into the swing of things?

Friday Randomness ~ Historic Edition

Work is crazy busy this week, so I’m just going to jump on in, OK?  Here are a few random thoughts buzzing around in my brain.

  1. I have been hearing some of the coverage of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of JFK.  Interesting tidbits…there was a story on NPR yesterday, where they were discussing how much the rest of the country HATED Dallas afterwords.  People having polite conversation with a nearby table in a restaurant, and when they said they were from Dallas, people would get up and leave.  That kind of thing.  I can’t imagine.  I think nowadays we’d be more sympathetic to the residents of a city where something horrid like that happened.  Who knows, though, because Dallas apparently DID have a bit of a reputation at the time.  You can hear the segment here, if you’re so inclined.
  2. My mother was in the hospital with false labor on November 22, 1963, with my older brother, Richard.  He wasn’t born for 2 more weeks.  She had no idea what was going on, just that people were crying, and then a nurse asked her if she was OK, and finally told her what was going on.
  3. My father was in jail in Georgia on November 22, 1963.  He had been arrested as part of the ‘Quebec-Washington-Guantanamo Walkers’.  The story is that a lynch mob was coming to get his group and take care of them, but the sheriff didn’t want that kind of trouble in his town, so he released them and told them to make haste.
  4. I wasn’t born for a couple more years, so I don’t have a memory of that day.  I do remember when Reagan was shot.  I was in 8th grade, and the principal told us over the loudspeaker.  A boy in class made a jeering laugh…I don’t know if he was one of those people who laughs inappropriately, or if he was really delighted, but Oh My God, my English teacher sure chewed him out.  I mean, to hear such news over the loudspeaker, and then have to deal with your own feelings, and right then to have to deal with a classroom of 8th graders?  She lost it.  I kind of respected her for it, though.

Friday Randomness

I’m reading the new novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and at almost half way in, I’m loving it.  It’s the story of a Nigerian girl who comes to America to get an education, because the colleges in Nigeria keep closing down due to strikes.  She’s getting ready to go back to Nigeria, many years later, and see what the world there has for her…but right now we’re in flashbacks, her college life, trying to live as an American African (different from an African American), trying to pay for tuition and rent and so on.  Trying to overcome her self hatred at some of the things she has done.

I’m adjusting to live without soda.  I really think giving it up entirely is the way to go, because I have tried SO many times to cut down to one a day, and it never lasts more than a week or so.  Of course, I’m only a week and a half into this, but so far so good.

I’ve discovered something shocking.  I like tea.  Ted says that he thinks my problem, previously, was that I was only drinking crappy American tea, which can tend towards bitter.  I decided to try his tea, which he drinks the British way, with milk and sugar.  PGTips.  I had a cup yesterday, and a cup today, and I enjoyed both of them.  I’m not going to lie to you and say that if I were offered a choice between a nice cold coke or a cup of tea, I would choose the tea.  I wouldn’t.  But it’s nice in its own way.

I’m also adjusting to the standing desk.  My goal was 50/50 standing and sitting.  But the switching between the two isn’t as simple as I had hoped, so I’m standing most of the time, taking breaks to sit for meetings or phone calls or reviewing paper.  It’s fine most of the time, but at the end of the day, my feet hurt.  I’m wearing good shoes, I have carpet, I don’t know that I want to further clutter our office with padding that would make moving my chair a pain should I choose to use it.  Sometimes I just wish we had a bigger house.  Big enough that my desk could have two monitors, one high and one low, and I could switch between them at will.  Maybe that will actually happen (without moving) next year, when I’m scheduled to get a laptop for work.   We’ll see.

Stockton was nice last week.  I took Grandma and Aunt Flo to Red Lobster, and we had scampi and biscuits.  It was pretty darned good.  They wanted wine, so we had wine at noon, even though I hadn’t had breakfast.  Which made me realize, I was having wine for breakfast.  Oh well, I guess that’s not any more strange than scampi for breakfast, right?

Went to the funeral for Rosemary’s grandmother.  I didn’t know her well, I had only met her a few times.  But I was sad for Rosemary, who is so devastated, and loves her grandma so very much.  I got to talk to some friends from High School and get all caught up on their lives so far, so overall it was a really nice day.

I got some good news today, on the smaller scale of life, but it excited me nonetheless.  I’m not sure if I can tell you yet, so you’ll just have to wait.  Not as good as a wonderful new job, or a clean biopsy, or a trip to Paris or anything, but good.

Today I have to go shopping for a few Thanksgiving items.  Maya’s girl scout troop volunteers every year at a ‘Basket Brigade’, filling and delivering baskets of holiday items to families in need.  That’s tomorrow, so today I shop.

Other plans for the weekend?  Not many.  I need to make progress on my book…I have about 300 pages to go, and it’s a library book with a wait list, due next Saturday I think.

You?  Anything exciting going on this weekend?