Wednesday, December 27, 2006


I was listening to NPR yesterday (yes, I get most of my news from NPR, the rest I get from The Week, which is kindly donated to me by friends—hey, recycling! Anyway, at least those are better sources than the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, which is where my students seem to get all of their news. Well, I guess I shouldn’t complain—it could be Fox News—“Fair and Balanced?") and someone did a study on productivity during the holiday season, say Chanukah through New Years, and guess what they learned? Productivity is down during the holidays. Duh. Now, I’m all for studies, but I could have told them that. I haven’t blogged for days—proving that my productivity is down. I just seem to drink tea, eat cookies, and knit—oh no, what will this do to the GNP?

Oh, and by the way, the winter holiday season is only the second lowest season for productivity. Wanna know what the lowest season for productivity is? Fantasy Football season—all seventeen weeks of it.

Sometimes I do not understand Americans.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Solstice!
Turnips accomplished.

This has been a culinary morning. First we went out and bought ducks for roasting on Christmas, then we bought pancetta to make this lovely pasta dish for brunch. The inspiration for it came from my new cookbook by Nigella Lawson. No, I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but the idea came from the book. I served it with broiled tomatoes (a tribute to Nigella, since she's English) and papayas, since I'm going to Hawaii in a few weeks. We have a great bottle of wine that would have gone well with it, but since it was only 10:30 am, we decided maybe that was a bit decadent.

Now, we're off to the Asian food store to find the right turnips to roast with the duck. Wish us luck.

My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?

Ha, ha, surely they jest.

I'd like to say it's not worth the paper it's printed on....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

My (Long Awaited) End of the Year Form Letter

Here are the highlights of my year: 2006. I have not written it in the third person, or in the “form letter fairy” style as my husband dubs it. I have used the first person.

The year started with Jan. 1, just like it does each year. I probably did something to commemorate this, but I don’t remember what.

Next was February.

Then March. My birthday is in March. I think it rained too.

I taught, graded a bunch, then it was summer. We watched nice fireworks at our local spot; our usual spot quit doing fireworks, I preferred the old place, but parking was dreadful there. We got a great place to park at the new place.

Summer was hot and my son spent a lot of it bored. I spent a lot of it bored. I also complained a lot about the weather. I have more posts in July than any other month—I’ll bet most of them complain about the weather.

We skipped vacation this year, as it seemed that everyone was doing it, and we didn’t just want to be “one of the crowd.”

School started in fall, as it generally does. It did take awhile for fall weather to start, it generally does. Everybody went back to school, as they generally do. I taught and graded papers, as I generally do.

I started dance lessons, and I’m doing so well, I’m thinking of turning pro.

I ate a lot of figs. In fact, I ate probably ten pounds of figs (not all at once). I made fig jam.

I gave up coffee twice, no make that three times. I did not give up chocolate.

I became the author of an extremely successful blog (fifteen readers and counting), with relatively few misspelled words. And, I just resisted the impulse to misspell misspell. Yet another point for me.

I bought a new pair of jeans, a new bathing suit, and several tank tops—oh, and a new pair of salsa shoes.

Ha, top that all of my upwardly mobile friends!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Three significant things happened today that I would like to share with you. First, I finished my grading. Second, we drove up to the local mountains to watch it rain, and it snowed instead. And third, and probably most momentous, it was cold enough today to wear socks. Just thought you'd like to know.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

We live in a time of rudeness.

It’s true. In our grandparents’ day, everyone was polite and respectful (my husband calls this the GOD—“good old/ol’ days”—syndrome).

But now, people don’t even have the tiniest particle of consideration. I mean, do you know how long it took me to get onto the ‘net today? I carried my laptop all over my house trying to sign in on one of the many airport servers in my neighborhood, but not a one of them would let me on today. They all wanted some sort of password. That is so rude.

I finally had to plug my laptop into my landline system.

I mean, if people are going to litter the airwaves with their internet connections, the least they could do is make them able to be reliably accessed by me.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Salsa Shoes

Recently my husband I started taking dance lessons. We started with Swing, and it went well. We attended a few workshops, Polka, Waltz, and a Rhumba class. All went well. We practiced, we practiced with friends who know how to dance, and all went well.

Then we tried Salsa. In a class, in a workshop, in another workshop, with videos. No dice. What was wrong with us? Everybody can Salsa, right? Why can’t we? Are we too old? Too “white?” We could Rhumba--that’s Latin.

After much head scratching, I finally figured it out. It’s clearly my old dancing shoes. I have the wrong shoes. I have Swing shoes. I need sexy new Salsa shoes—high heels. That should solve everything.

Now, if they don’t work, will I be able to return them?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Year End Update Form Letters

Yesterday I received my first end of the year update form letter. I haven’t opened it yet. I just can’t face it. It’s from one of those old friends I haven’t seen in years whose life took a very different path than mine did. In other words, she has a successful career, owns her own house, and makes oodles of money, at least to judge by her past form letters. I know all about her activities (promotions) and acquisitions (vacation getaways).

See, that’s the problem with these letters. They are really just a way to either validate one’s existence (see I have made a success out of my life) and probably to imply that others haven’t (what have you done lately?)

Now, I don’t even know if this particular friend is happy, and I know that I am, but the letters (year, after year, after year) bother me. It also bothers me that I receive them before I have even remembered where I tucked the stash of Christmas cards left over from last year, let alone set aside time to write and address them.

So this year, I’ve decided to write my own letter and send it around, so that my holiday missives can strike terror in the hearts of my old friends too.

I’ll reproduce it right here so it can strike terror in your heart too.
Okay, yet another new blog look. At least it's green. At least all of the bits don't run together. At least the writing is darker than the background.

Looks too canned.


Monday, December 11, 2006

New look

Well, I finally broke down and upgraded my blog. I didn't want to. Blogger made me. I find this particular template to be uninspiring. I wanted one with green in it. The green one had white print, which gave me a headache. I almost chose the one named "Jellyfish," not because it was great, but I did like the name. I love jellyfish. To look at. Not to eat. I am very allergic to jellyfish. Really.

Anyway, this may not be the final look of the blog. Blah blog. Blahg.
A small white ball is silhouetted against the blue grey sky
Amongst the naked branches of the tree outside of my study window
Yellow leaves blanket the dead grass
Fall happened while I wasn’t looking

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Smokers’ Paradise

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas to meet my brother and sister-in-law for a visit. Las Vegas is a strange place, to say the very least. Everything seems to be legal there from gambling to prostitution. I saw lots of people gambling, but no one engaging in prostitution. I did see lots of people smoking. In fact, with the exception of myself and my party, everyone seemed to be smoking. Not just a cigarette or two, people had a cigarette hanging out of their mouths at all times: in the restroom, at the slot machines, in restaurants, outside on the street, in their cars, in the halls of the hotels.

The conclusion I reached was that people don’t go to Vegas to gamble, they go to smoke. Las Vegas seems to be the last place in the United States (maybe on earth—even the French are banning smoking in restaurants) where it is legal (and maybe compulsory) to smoke in all places and at all times.

Now, I’m surprised that the high paid ad execs who do the marketing for Vegas haven’t seen this angle yet. Imagine the new visitors this would encourage; who cares about night club shows, roulette tables, and outlet malls when you can actually smoke anywhere you want?

I mean, Las Vegas could be located out in the middle of nowhere, or in the middle of a desert and people would still go.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Ooooh, look at my new moon phases dealie. Too cool.

Clearly, more avoidance behavior. I am working a lot, really.

But a moon phase dealie--everyone needs one.
It's good to be back. Blogging cheers me up. Working does not.

Teaching does, but that's not actually working.

Anyway, it's nice to be blogging again.

Besides, now my fifteen readers will be happy I'm back.

Okay, off to grade.

Well, the big news is out this week, and what a relief it is. We can
all rest easy now. I know you, like me, have been up nights worrying
about this, but now you will sleep like a baby. The news of course,
is, that Plutonium does not decay as quickly as we used to think it
did. Scientists and military officials are thrilled because this means
that the nuclear bombs we made thirty years ago are still good.

Which of course means that we could USE THEM. It also means that our nuclear waste is staying radioactive even longer than we thought.

Thank the heavens above and the earth below.

Whew, that was close.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Sweet Potatoes

My post Thanksgiving thoughts are all about sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes you say; isn’t Thanksgiving a turkey holiday, you say? Maybe, but today, my thoughts stray to sweet potatoes.

First, after peeling the fourth sweet potato, I turned to my husband and asked, “Do you think this is enough sweet potatoes?” He asked, “Who likes sweet potatoes?” I said, “No one.” He said, “Then that’s enough.”

Second, while transferring the butter and maple syrup glazed sweet potatoes to their serving dish, my mother in law said, “You better tell people that they’re sweet potatoes and not carrots so they’ll eat them.” See comment above.

Third, I flinched when my mom said, “Pass the yams.” I’m not saying it again people—they’re sweet potatoes, not yams. Chances are, you’ve never eaten a yam. Yams aren’t grown in the United States. Yams aren’t eaten here, unless you eat a lot of Asian or African cuisine. Your grocer lies to you. “Yams” are a marketing ploy ‘cause some yokel wanted to differentiate between his sweet potatoes and some other yokel’s sweet potatoes, so he started calling them yams. They’re not yams. Go to your recycling bin and take out that can of “Candied Yams” and look at the ingredients: yep, it says “sweet potatoes;” nary a yam in sight.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The New Yoga Mat

I finally did it—I finally broke down and bought a new yoga mat. It’s not like I needed one. It’s not like every time I did an inversion, little purple bits snowed down on me. It’s not like I didn’t leave a little purple trail everywhere I carried the mat. The mat was not presentable enough to take to yoga classes. So, I finally did it, and bought a new one.

The new mat is eco-friendly. I asked the clerk what that meant. He proceeded to explain the term “eco-friendly.” I said, “No, I know what ‘eco-friendly’ means, what is the mat made of?” The clerk did not know. He also didn’t know whether or not it would off-gas. I hate waiting for a new mat to finish off-gassing. It’s one of the reasons that I put off buying a new mat—though I’ve needed one for over a year now.

So I tried out the new mat this morning, and it’s nice. It’s firm, and sticky, and doesn’t leave small spongy bits of itself wherever it goes.

Did I mention that it’s pink? Actually, it’s not pink, it’s PINK. It’s brighter than ballet pink. It’s brighter than rose pink. It’s brighter than cotton candy pink (really). It’s PINK like the color of the little hard candy beads on those candy necklaces that little girls love so much. No, I don’t know what I was thinking. There was a limited color selection, and in the store filled with many other objects in brilliant Indian colors, the pink didn’t stand out.

In my muted living room it does. In my house the thing positively glows.

By the end of this morning’s session I was getting used to its PINKNESS (and the off-gassing), so I guess it’ll work out. I just need to be careful to use it only in daylight hours, so as not to wake the neighbors.

Monday, November 20, 2006

It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Last week the moonrise was stunning. There was a haze of smoke in the air from the fires burning all over the West. The moon was a golden glowing orb, with strands of smoke clouds blowing over it.

I said, “It looks like a Chinese painting.”

My son said, “It looks like something from a Harry Potter movie.”

My husband said, “It looks like the moon from the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland.”

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Title of This Blog Appears at the End

I don’t generally like movies, and the few I do aren’t run of the mill, to say the least. If I would ever finish the list of my favorite movies and post it here, then you would know what I mean. Suffice it to say that my taste runs to the offbeat.

Well, the problem with offbeat films, is that since they aren’t formulaic, it is impossible to decide at what point it is safe to leave to the theater to use the facilities. Now—don’t laugh--I never make it all the way through a film without having to use the restroom. Usually, this isn’t a problem, as with most films I (or anyone for that matter) can figure out exactly what will happen, and even generally when it will happen, in the first five minutes of the film. I can choose to go during one of the many chase scenes if it is an action flick. Or, if it’s a love story, I can choose to go during the part where they fight and decide they’re not right for each other, before they get to the part where they really do love each other after all. Or, it the fight seems as though it will be more entertaining, I can wait until they promise undying love. Easy.

However, if the film is not formulaic; if it doesn’t march along inexorably in all of its banality, it is impossible to know when one can leave.

Today, I saw such a film. You will rarely hear me say that I liked a movie, but I have to admit, that something about Stranger Than Fiction kept me sitting uncomfortably in a freezing theater waiting to see what might actually happen to the off center characters assembled there. So, I guess maybe you should see the movie—but be sure you don’t drink a large cup of tea before heading out the door, and just accept the fact that you will not be able to leave the theater at any point during the film, even if you really need to use the bathroom.

Also, be prepared to make cookies.

Now, for the title: my son suggested the perfect title for this blog: To Pee, or Not to Pee.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


I did my best to get your papers back this week.

I tried really hard.

You only had to write one--I had to grade 40.

I have other classes you know.

I was sick.

My kid was sick.

My dog was sick.

My computer was down.

I forgot you’d want them back.

My other class didn’t mind my turning them back late.

Yes, those excuses sound just as lame when the teacher gives them as when the students give them. I can’t use these excuses to excuse myself from grading student papers, but student papers can provide a nifty excuse for not blogging.

See, I was going somewhere; it just took a bit.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The real reason we have cell phones

You might think that the real reason we have cell phones is to call for help when stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire.

You might think that the real reason we have cell phones is to make business deals from restaurants.

You might think that the real reason we have cell phones is to give us something to do while stuck in traffic.

You might think that the real reason we have cell phones is to text our friends and lovers.

You might think that the real reason we have cell phones is to call our significant other and get him or her to stop at the store for milk on the way home from work.

You might think that the real reason we have cells phone is to call for pizza delivery on the way home, so it’s waiting for you when you get there.

But, I know the real reason for cell phones.

The real reason we have cell phones is to call the rest of our party when we are standing in the middle of Toon Town waiting for them, only to find out that they are in fact in Fantasyland waiting for Snow White.

That’s the real reason for cell phones.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Vicious Sea Lion?

The reason you haven’t heard much from me lately, is that I have been buried under student term papers, and haven’t had the time to blog. It’s not that I’m truly caught up, but I just couldn’t let this one get by.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a woman was bitten today by a probable sea lion while swimming in San Francisco Bay. The woman belongs to the Dolphin Club, whose members swim year round in the Bay.

Now, I have only one thing to say about this: San Francisco Bay--is this woman insane? It’s November; the Bay is frigid in August, what would possess anyone to swim in the Bay in November? This woman shouldn’t complain about being bitten by a sea lion, she should be grateful that she isn’t dead of hypothermia. What was she thinking?

I’m thinking, some time under observation in the local mental ward is in order.

Oh, and by the way, this woman is quite possibly the fourteenth person bitten by this sea lion, according to National Public Radio. Who are these people?

The Dolphin Club could not be reached for comment. Yeah, I wouldn’t answer the phone either.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Night

My son’s favorite television shows are The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, in that order.

It’s fifteen minutes until the polls close here on the West Coast.

My son is currently in the living room watching the East Coast election results on C-SPAN. A few minutes ago he cheered out loud at Bob Mendez’ (New Jersey) acceptance speech.

My son is eleven years old.

He better not grow up to be president.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

And so,

Because I know you are fascinated by the minutiae of my life,

Because I haven't written in awhile, and I don't want you to think I've dropped off the face of the earth,

Because a picture is worth a thousand words,

Here is a picture of my lunch:

It is a bento style lunch with fried rice, chicken and broccoli. It is packed in a tiny Japanese lunchbox that stacks and has a carrying handle. Note the obligatory bunnies on the lid. All of the best bento boxes have bunnies. I have yet to figure out why.

The lunch by the way was delicious.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dogs Will Eat Anything

Occasionally I give my dogs table scraps or other treats. One of my dogs, Tula, the Italian Greyhound, lives for treats, and she will eat all kinds of things: meat, veggies, potatoes, and she even tasted an apple core I once offered her. Now, I generally think of dogs as indiscriminant eaters, but Buddy, my Jack Russell Terrier, is actually quite finicky. I find this hard to believe in a dog that will troll the floor for any particle of edible matter, including the random dust bunny. Buddy also eats lizards; he prefers the head, feet, and tails, leaving the body for us to find. For goodness sakes, Buddy eats sticks.

But just try offering him eggs. Tula loves eggs, and prances around while I empty them into her dish. Buddy, stands by his dish as I spoon the eggs in, and then he looks up at me with a positively injured expression—as though I have just hit him. Then he checks his bowl again to be really sure that it is eggs after all. Then he looks over at Tula’s dish to make sure that she has also received eggs. Yes, she has.

Then he looks at me again. Then he looks at the eggs. Then he sighs. He really does, a big breathy, the world is such a disappointment, sigh.

Then he eats the eggs. Not because he’s hungry. Not because he wants them. Not because he loves me. He eats the eggs so Tula can’t.

He is a dog after all.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sushi Burrito?

Yesterday at my favorite Japanese café, I saw a guy leave by the back kitchen door. Nothing unusual about that, except that he was eating a burrito. Is this one of those “only in California” things?

The bad thing is, now when we go there, my son, who gets tired of eating Japanese food (imagine that), will want a burrito. Do you think we could get them to make us one?

I can hear the order now:

One order teriyaki chicken
One order California roll, 12 pieces
One order gyoza
And a bean and cheese burrito to go

I’m thinking--no.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Procrastination Pays?

I’ve been meaning to clean out the service porch for months now. It is a very small room that houses the washer and dryer, the water heater, the furnace, a utility sink, my vacuum cleaner, pet supplies, tools, cleaning supplies, and several bottles of purified water. Not bad for a 6.5 x 9 foot room. At any rate, as you may imagine, it gets cluttered and dusty, and needs periodic clean outs.

So, I’ve been meaning to do it.

Last night the water heater started leaking, and it didn’t stop. Out came the towels and buckets, and everything else in the room needed to move to the living room. A few hours of mopping, sorting, and rearranging bins, and the service porch is now clean.

What I want to know is this: did the cosmos lend a hand in inspiring me to get this job done that I was planning on doing anyway, or is this a case of “be careful what you ask for?”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Real Reason for Yoga

Yes, yoga is all about health, relaxation, and if you’re of a religious inclination, enlightenment. But yesterday, I learned what yoga was really for.

Yesterday at the beach, we had been walking barefoot in the sand (yes it was cold), and when I went to put on my shoes, I realized I had the usual beach dilemma: could I put my shoes on without getting sand in them? There were no benches anywhere in sight, and sitting in the sand would have simply compounded the problem. So, I did the only logical thing: I balanced on one foot, wiped the sand off my raised foot by brushing it on the other jeans’ leg, held my coffee and handbag in my left hand, and my hair in my right hand, and then inserted the now sandless foot into my waiting shoe. I repeated on the other side, and voila, no sand in the shoes.

That’s what yoga is really for.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Where at the Mall Do They Sell That?

This weekend at the mall, I saw a man flossing his teeth. Really. Now, I’m all for dental hygiene, but don’t you think people should floss at home? I don’t want to watch him floss; I don’t want to think about the bits of tartar he is flicking in the process of flossing.

Where did he even get the floss anyway? Does he carry it with him in his wallet next to his library card and his spare condom?

Do they sell dental floss at the GAP or Orange Julius? Floss R Us?

Floss at home people. Some things are meant to be done without witness.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Figs, revisited

My neighbor Jack, of “Jack and the Broomstick” (6/30/06), just brought me another bucket of figs. It’s the second this week. He so has my number.

A student, Wes, stopped by office hours today and delivered a bag of jujubes, not the candy, but a delicious fresh fruit. A few weeks ago, he brought Asian pears. I am such a lucky woman.

Happy Birthday to a person who wishes to remain anonymous. Don't worry--she knows who she is.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Finally the cruelest month is finally over—September. Yes, I know that March is supposedly the cruelest month, but not around here. March is one of the best months where I live, but September is the worst month. It starts out hot and humid and it ends hot, dry, and windy.

I have no money in September, because even though I’ve been working since late August, I don’t get paid until September 30; it is one of the joys of working for the gov.

Football season starts in September—need I say more?

The only good thing about September, besides it finally being over, is my wedding anniversary, which we missed this year because my husband was out of town.

No, September is definitely the cruelest month.

Besides, it can’t be March; my birthday is in March.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I am not perfect. I forget to mail things. I get impatient with my son and my students. I yell at the dogs. I don’t always return phone calls. I don’t always get my work done in a timely manner.

But today, today I am a good person.

Today I remembered to call my mom on her birthday. Happy Birthday Mom.

Now, I better go and remind my brother to call, so he too can be a good person—at least for today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

My husband was Junkie of the Month

at Starbuck’s a few months ago. What that means is that he was the featured customer of the month. What that means is that he had a framed picture of himself prominently displayed on the counter. What that means is that he goes there a lot. What that means is they know his drink (Venti drip with room). What that means is they know his name. What that means is when he’s out of town and comes back, they’re pleased to see him. What that means is other Starbuck junkies recognize him and call him by name.

A few weeks ago when I went into Starbucks they greeted me by name, and asked if I wanted a tall latte.

What does that mean?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Wait at the Ladies

All right, I have a question. Why does it take women so long in the public restroom? Yesterday I waited a full five minutes (and that’s not even a long wait) for a woman to vacate the bathroom. Now, I am a woman, and it takes me very little time to go in, do my business, and be out; I even wash my hands (this is one of my theories about why men take less time).

What are they doing in there--reading, washing and blow-drying their hair, grouting the tile, napping? What? A week ago a woman leaving the restroom with two large bags said, “I’m sorry I took so long, I had to change clothes.” I said that’s okay (though it wasn’t). But what I wanted to say was, “How many times did you change clothes, ten, twenty?” Really.

So, if anybody knows the answer to this question, please tell me. This is one of the many mysteries about my own gender that I have yet to fathom.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Jung 101

A few nights ago I went to the bookstore and was hanging out in the religion/philosophy section—no surprise there. I mostly check out the Eastern Philosophy books, looking for new trends or anything interesting. Buddhism and psychology seem to be coming back into vogue.

Anyway, while I was there, an older man came over and started talking to me. First he wanted to know what I was looking for. Then he wanted to tell me all of the gurus he’d met or meditated with. Then he wanted to know if I knew them. Then he told me all about how he was there “when it all started.” Then he wanted to know whether or not I practiced, and what I practiced. Then he told me he was beyond “isms.”

I responded to the majority of these comments with either hmmm, or very short responses.

Then he told me he didn’t practice Zen anymore because it didn’t fit his (Jungian) archetype.

I said, “Hmmm.”

But what I wanted to say was, “Which archetype is that, the one that hangs out in bookstores and tries to pick up blonde women twenty years younger than you?”

I don’t remember that one.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Queen of Clean

is my mother. When I was growing up, our house was clean. I mean really clean. It was both sanitary and clutter free. My mother spent the majority of each day cleaning, what to my eyes as a child, was a completely clean house. Our house was Better Homes and Gardens clean. The President could have stopped by at any moment and my mom would not have been embarrassed by the state of her house.

My mother always walked around the house picking things up. If my brother or I left our books, toys, or other childish clutter around, my mother picked it up and put it away, or told us to do so. If we left a glass of water on the table, and left the room for a moment, my mother emptied it and put it in the dishwasher.

I loved to go to other people’s houses, and was always interested to learn that they weren’t necessarily clean all of the time. You see, I thought that everyone’s house was as clean as ours. I was especially fascinated by my friends’ rooms. Not only were they not always clean, sometimes they were downright disaster areas. Ann, my best friend Allison’s mom, loves to tell the story to this day about the night I stayed over at her house and we pre-teens slept among the piles of clean laundry that Allison had not yet folded and put away. This was a totally alien experience for me. My mom would have been horrified if the clean laundry was not neatly folded and put away immediately in an orderly fashion, in militarily neat dresser drawers. Did you know that some people just toss their socks and under things into drawers without folding them? I never knew this until I was in college and had a roommate.

When I turned eight or so, I got to help clean the perfectly clean house. Of course, I thought this pointless. The house was clean already. My room was clean. I was not allowed to let my room get dirty.

So, kids do one of two things; they either become like their parents, or they become reactionary to them. Where do you suppose I landed?

Oh, and by the way, I have a friend who says my mom cannot be the Queen of Clean, because his mom is the Queen of Clean. You mean there are two of them?

Monday, September 04, 2006

I cried when Jacques Cousteau died; he was an idol to me, and I respected what he stood for and all he had done for the environment.

Steve Irwin died yesterday. He too worked to teach people about the environment, particularly much maligned animals like crocodiles.

What bothers me most about his death, besides the obvious tragedy, and the family he leaves behind, is the shock of it.

How can someone so full of life just stop?
An Ode on Figs

Figs are my favorite fruit, except for tomatoes. It’s finally fig season, three glorious weeks when I will eat figs everyday if I can. I like Mission Figs, Turkey Figs, and Kadota Figs; in fact, I have never met a fig I didn’t like—unless it’s in a Newton. What a way to ruin the perfect fruit.

Eating figs is like eating ambrosia and having sex at the same time. Sorry for you sensitive types out there, but that’s just the way it is.

We had a Kadota Fig tree in our back yard years ago. It was always trying to fall down, and finally it did. I cried when I realized that I could no longer go out and pick my own figs.

Now I am reduced to snagging figs off of my neighbors’ trees. They don’t eat them, what can I say? My neighbor Scott is never home, so his figs are fair game. I have another neighbor around the corner whose fig tree extends onto the sidewalk—again fair game.

Of course I also buy them at the grocery store. Our produce guy always points me to the figs when I come in; he’s got my number.

I do have to fight my son for them; he is turning into a fig fiend too. My husband can take them or leave them. Smart man.

Hmm, all this talk about figs has given me an appetite; I think I’ll go for a walk.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Global Warming

I was listening two weeks ago to NPR Business Report. Usually I’m allergic to things business--it was an accident. Anyway, the gist of the story was about how beneficial global warming was going to be to business. Excuse me? I couldn’t possibly have heard that correctly. Yep, that’s what they said. They gave one example of how the polar ice caps would melt, and that would allow for faster shipping across the Arctic.

Now, one of my very bright students from last year had mentioned that he had heard this, but I took it with a grain of salt—I mean, how hairbrained is that? But as it turns out, my very bright student was right. Business people the world over are salivating and rubbing their hands together with glee in anticipation of the changes that global warming will bring.

Do they not understand that dramatically changing rainfall patterns will be devastating to existing countries and economies? Do they not understand that countries like Bangladesh will be completely underwater? If they have no compassion for developing nations, do they not understand that Britain and the Netherlands will be devastated by higher water levels, to say nothing of our own gulf states? Did they enjoy Katrina, and are they looking forward to more hurricanes like it?

If all of that is not scary enough, diluting the salt in the Atlantic Ocean will change the water currents and bring on another Ice Age. What will they do then, sell snow cones?

More evidence that people have indeed lost their minds. Not that we needed more proof.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Yoga in a Menagerie

A few days ago I was sitting on my mat, between asanas (yoga poses—can you believe that the spell check does not recognize the word “asana?”), and my Jack Russell Terrier Buddy came to sit with me. He regards yoga as “our special time together.” That’s all well and good, but Buddy and I have plenty of special time together throughout the day, as let him in and out to bark, as I refill his food bowl that he has hurled against the back door, and especially when he’s crowding me out of bed at night and hogging the covers. So, we really don’t need more special time together, especially when I am trying to BREATHE.

In one of those desperate, thoughtless moments, I did it. I said, “Buddy, get on the couch.” Really. I told my filthy, shedding, white dog to get ON the couch. That must be a first.

What do you suppose Buddy did? He got on the couch. My husband suggested that we send him out for coffee and doughnuts, but we didn’t say it to Buddy.

We were afraid he might do it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Dog Days of Summer

I have often wondered exactly what this expression meant, and from where it came. I did some reading this morning to try to pin it down, but to no avail. Apparently even such a tome as The Oxford Companion to the Year cannot definitively say what or when the Dog Days are. All it can say is that they are hot. Ah, well, I'm glad we cleared that up.

I guess then, we are in the Dog Days of summer. I always think of the Dog Days as late August into September, but most importantly, the hot humid days that just won’t go away. That’s what I mean by Dog Days—"Dogged Days." Like a terrier that just won’t let go of a toy, the atmosphere just won’t let go of the heat. Won’t give in to the cool crispness that it knows is coming, won’t give up the searing sun. The sun blazes stronger at this time, and in the direct sun summer still reigns supreme, but that’s the only place that summer is still winning—in the shade it’s getting cooler, at night it’s getting cooler. The sun fights back with a vengeance; it fights so hard because it knows it’s going to lose.

It will cool, the leaves will turn, the sky will open and it will rain, and the days of Old Sol in his/her glory will have to wait until next summer to come back full force.

My favorite thing about the Dog Days is, they can’t last forever.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Nutrition 101

A few days ago, my son asked me if we could go out to breakfast (on a Wednesday?) because we had no food in the house.

“We have muffins, babe, you can’t be out of food when you have muffins.”

“Can I have leftover lasagna?”

“Yes, you can have for breakfast anything we had for dinner.”

“Can I have ice cream?”

“No, we don’t have ice cream for dinner.”*

“We do at Grandma’s.”

Ahem, we do not follow Grandma’s “rules” here.

*Okay, when it was a 1000 degrees here I allowed him to have pie a la mode for dinner--you want consistency read someone else’s blog, ‘cause you’re not gettin’ it here.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Yesterday while I was prepping for class and my son was doing his homework, my son said to me, “Mom, I don’t understand religion.”

I put down my copy of The World’s Religions by Huston Smith and waited for him to continue.

He said, “In Christianity, I don’t understand if Jesus is God.”

I said, “Babe, you have no idea how many people have died over that very question.”

This was not the answer he was hoping for.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Not locusts

So far this summer we have avoided the plagues that usually descend: tornados (okay not here), hurricanes (okay, not here either), Bubonic (ditto), and the most dreaded plague of all: ants. Sure, there’d been a few minor episodes, but nothing threatening. That is until last night.

Now last night’s plague was not of Biblical proportions, but it nonetheless cut to the quick. They went after the chocolate. Around here this is a serious offense. And it wasn’t just any chocolate, it was my husband’s treasured Summertimes from See’s Candies. These candies are rare and coveted because they are only available in the summer—hence the name. It is those, and not the garden-variety chocolate bars, that the little buggers went after.

I ran into the kitchen (he’d been eating them in bed!) with the box, dropped it on the counter and asked my husband what he wanted me to do with them. He just kept saying “save the chocolate” with a dazed expression on his face.

He used the vacuum cleaner to vacuum them off of the carpet and the bed with a vengeance seldom seen. He lovingly combed the surface of each candy for the dreaded interlopers.

Much ado about nothing you say, but at the end of the day, he did indeed save the chocolate.

We all need to have attainable goals.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Work Space Rejuvenation

In the midst of all of the work to prepare for the new semester, I decided that my study needed rearranging. My brain was feeling stagnant, and I was getting burned out—so the obvious solution was to feng shui my study.

My poor husband had to move a very heavy 1940s desk, along with all of the scary electronic spaghetti behind it. Bookcases needed shifting, and all of the wall art and calendars are still in the wrong places. The hamster was traumatized when his cage got shuffled from one unfamiliar surface to another.

But to me, it’s been worth the trouble. The desk and computer (to which I have been chained) now faces the window, which looks out to trees, birds, and the birdbath. The cool breeze blows in, and it looks so peaceful in the morning. I do have my back to the door as I type this, but I’m willing to risk it. I have placed in the room a vintage modern chair that I am revamping, and am slowly working through the piles of detritus from last year’s activities.

My only feng shui question now is: I have a rug for the room and I can’t decide if it’s better feng shui to align the rug according to the furniture (Chinese design/feng shui is all about symmetry), or should I use it to cover up the worse of the ugly stains in the carpet?

Maybe a latte would help me decide.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Chess camp update--

Remember Happy? His twin (yes there are two of him) bit someone.

The twin is named Easy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

To latte or not to latte....

I have a love-hate relationship with coffee. I normally consider myself to be a tea drinker, but when I really must get a project done--I need the extra caffeine boost from drinking coffee (or Coca Cola, but that's another blog).

This summer I have been writing my first online class. It's going fine, but it's been a lot of work. I am up to two tall lattes a day. Yesterday I had a tall latte, and part of a grande. I need to cut back. Caffeine makes me talk fast. I already talk fast. I don't need to talk faster. I am already ampy. I don't need to be more ampy.

My students have made a special request that I NOT drink coffee before class. I can't imagine why.

I only have four days and two and a half hours to become a calm tea drinker.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

False Advertising

I went to chess camp with my son, and agreed to fold origami with the children as a free time activity. I got so much more. I did make a lot of new friends, and met many wonderful children, some of whom were great little folders, as well as great chess players. One child I met defies definition. I knew this child was trouble as soon as I laid eyes on him; he didn’t just have a twinkle in his eye, his whole body radiated mischief.

The child spent the day at my origami table. Every opportunity he got he was there with his rapidly folded models, shoving them in my face, demanding my evaluation and attention. I made him wait his turn before helping him realign his twisted little models.

One of the lovely surprises I received on arrival to chess camp, was that I was to be a camp counselor. I had been told I would room with three little girls; they gave me seven little boys.

And worse, they gave me the child.

He wouldn’t go to sleep; he had many suggestions to make regarding lights out: “Can’t we stay up later? Just ten minutes? Can we use flashlights? Can we play cards?" He ended up listening to his iPod (he is a ten year old) and using the backlight to disturb the other children. He also managed to get the other children to misbehave. All of them lost points in the camp’s reward system before finally giving up and going to sleep over an hour later.

Predictably, the next day the child turned up at my origami table. I looked up and said, “No, you cannot fold. I am tired of you. You wore me out last night. Go away.”

He begged to fold, so I gave him paper and sent him far away, across the room--for his own protection.

Half and hour later he returned, tail between his legs, and asked if he could come back. I said, “As long as you don’t irritate anyone, especially me.”

The rest of the session went without a hitch, and he behaved (mostly) for me the rest of the day.

Oh, did I mention the child’s name? He is called Happy.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

After five days of chess camp--we're back. Well, it's only been two calendar days, but trust me, it was at least a week. We ran away as soon as we could. More details tomorrow, after I've slept.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Today I'm going to the mountains for a week of chess camp with my son.

My anticipation knows no bounds.
I have a friend who calls me a lateral thinker.

Is that a nice way of saying that I can’t think straight?

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I just learned that scuba tanks have in them compressed air equivalent to the amount of air in a phone booth.

I have two problems with this: 1) I don’t believe in “compressed” air and 2) that is so not enough air for me.

I need a lot of air, and trust me, phone booths only have enough air for two, or maybe three minutes—tops.

I am not ever going scuba diving. Not that I was actually even considering it, but now it’s for certain.

Friday, August 04, 2006

My Ten Worst Movies List.

1. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover
2. Boxing Helena
3. Train Spotting
4. Blue Velvet (yes all you groupies, I hated it)
5. Star Wars III Revenge of the Sith (it’s really number VI, rolls eyes)
6. Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest
7. Hot Shots Part Deux
8. Krull
9. Treasure of the Sierra Madre
10. Austin Powers
11. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Yes, there are eleven on the list. I had to make myself stop there. Live with it.

There are many more I couldn’t think of that should be on the list; perhaps I will expand it later.

When discussing this list with a friend, who completely agreed with me about Blue Velvet by the way, we decided that we really need two bad movie lists: one for grotesque movies, and one for the merely banal.

I have seen a lot of bad movies.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

See how virtuous I am? I'm working on my on line class. It's going so well I'm posting pictures of myself on my blog working. What does this tell you?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I am such a smart ass.

It’s really the only thing that I am both good at and enjoy. I wish there was a job that paid me for being a smart ass. Teaching is close, but not quite close enough.

If anyone knows of a job that will pay me to be a smart ass, please let me know. Everyone should have a job that they love, and for me, being a smart ass is a calling.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


To be fair, I should state right off that I don’t really like movies. I mean some are good, but overall sitting in a dark cinema watching a film is as good as a sleeping pill. I am in fact famous for sleeping through movies.

I have a child. One does things with and for children, that one would never ordinarily do. Going to see the sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean is one such thing. Keep in mind please that I didn’t really like the first movie, with the exception of the boat docking scene (where it sinks—“What boat?”), and the smithy scene (“Pirate.”). In my view, two clever scenes do not a movie make.

Well, if I thought the first movie was bad, nothing could have prepared me for the banality of the second. I had made it through almost two hours, when I finally went out into the lobby. Surely the film was almost over, right? I asked two gentlemen who worked at the movie theater what the run time of the movie was. They smiled, so helpful, and said, “Two hours and forty-five minutes.” I honestly thought they were teasing me, so I said, “You’re kidding?” They said, “No ma’am.”

Another hour? ANOTHER HOUR? I told my husband I was leaving and walked a mile and a half in ninety-degree temperatures to our friends’ house where we were having dinner.

What can I say? I snapped. But at least I escaped some terrifyingly dull pirates.

Oh, and now I have to update my Ten Worst Movies list.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


I was a well-balanced child when it came to playing. I liked reading, knitting, and cooking, and I also liked climbing trees, riding my bike, and playing cars with the boy across the street.

What I never liked was dolls. When I was young all little girls were supposed to play with dolls. I had loads of them. Little dolls with fancy dresses and tricycles, big baby dolls that cried when you laid them down, and a doll that would crawl when you wound it up.

Reports are that the wind-up doll made me cry when I was a baby; I don’t remember, but I’m not surprised, because dolls creep me out.

I mean it. Even though I had loads of dolls as a child (my mom and grandma loved them), I didn’t play with them. My baby dolls went without food, diaper changes, or love until one of my doll-playing friends came over, then I went through the motions for her benefit.

The dolls that creep me out the most are the little monkeys that play the cymbals. Or at least the monkey doll used to creep me out the most.

Now I think the freakiest doll is the one that is bending over and hiding its eyes. I know it doesn’t have a face, but I cannot bring myself to check to be sure.

Of course, there is one thing that creeps me out more than dolls.

Clowns really, really, creep me out.

Friday, July 28, 2006

My husband just called me to ask if I would like him to bring me a coffee on his way home.

God yes.

Yes, I like to photograph my vegetables. Well, of course in this case tomatoes are fruits. Well, tomatoes are fruits everywhere but the United States, where they are vegetables, and have been since 1893.

Don’t get me started.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I am a Neat Nick

I make my bed everyday. It’s all I can do not to make everyone’s bed everyday. Being compulsively neat is a disease. I get it from my mom, the Queen of Clean.

Being a neat nick makes life for both you and the ones who share your space difficult at times, and this is why.

The people you live with are not neat nicks--they never are--trust me. So, they cannot stand the fact that you are always tidying, even if you have completely given up on them ever cleaning anything. You begin to tidy their things, which they oddly consider to be an invasion of their space and privacy.

Life is difficult for you, because no matter how much the people with whom you share your space tidy, clean, and otherwise enable you, it is not enough.

Because it is never enough. I have never once said to myself, “The house is now clean.”

I live with two people who are not neat nicks. I have learned to just let things be messy. There are piles of paper work all over the house, and FEMA should be notified about my study. Both showers need scrubbing. I don’t like it, but I don’t want to pass on my illness to my son. Nor do I want to be divorced. So my house stays messy.

Clearly I have succeeded in my quest to raise a well-adjusted, non-neat nick child. In fact, you should see my son’s room; that is, if you can find it under the clutter.

Clutter, trust me, of which I am acutely, painfully aware.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Last night a friend I went on a store run during a get together at my house. It was reminiscent of all the times in the past I have done this. Except that we didn’t go out for beer or wine or tequila, we went out for chocolate.

Does that mean that we’re dull? Old? Sexually repressed?

Maybe I don't want to know.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

I was thinking. The sun is shining. The entire nation is having record temperatures. What do we do when the sun is shining and it's hot? We run our air conditioners. What happens when we run our air conditioners? We strain the power grid. What happens when we strain the power grid? The power goes off. What happens when the power goes off? We can't use the air conditioner, so we're hot. Back to square one.

Now, my thought is, what if we didn't use the grid to power our air conditioners? Since the sun shines any way in the summer, 364 days a year here (okay, that's an exaggeration, 363 days a year), what if we used solar power to run our air conditioners? Every house could have solar panels on the roof to use the sun that normally makes us too hot, to make us cool. That way, running the air conditioner would happen at the same time too much sun was happening, and they would kind of cancel each other out. See what I mean?

Crazy isn't it?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

It's 109 degrees. In the shade.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I lie about my height.

It’s true. Most people get shorter as they age. I have gotten taller. That’s because I lie. I got tired of saying that I am 5 feet and 6 and 3/4 inches tall. Besides 5 foot 7 just sounds taller.

When I was younger, I was considered tall. Now that I’m 42, I’m considered short. What happened? I figure I can use that extra 1/4 inch to appear taller.

So, I lie about my height.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


If you do the exercise of three days in one day, does that mean you can skip exercising for the next two days?

No, I suppose not.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


We are on water use restriction alert, and it’s all my fault. I hosed off the patio last Sunday. I know, I know, but it had been years since I last did it, and I just can’t get the spider webs off without water.

Now we’re not supposed to water the lawn until after dark. I hardly water my lawn at all, but just this week I have been watering more because of the heat and just to green it up a bit. So, see this is my fault.

I feel so guilty every time I turn on the tap. I am such a Californian.

Okay, I’m off to sneak out and turn on the sprinklers.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Cucumber Wars

I grow cucumbers every year. I plant them primarily to watch them grow. I mean this literally. They come up in about three days, and you can truly watch them as they unfold and stand up straight. It’s a profound experience.

But, alas, this is the highlight of my yearly cuke gardening experience. The vines grow for awhile, they bear a couple of fruits, then succumb to one of the many fungi that inhabit my garden soil.

But this year was different. I had exhausted my supply of fast growing, quick dying seeds, and so broke my own rule, and bought a cucumber plant—ready made--from the nursery. It grew just fine. I ignored it. It got hot; I watered; it grew. It kept growing; it made two cucumbers. I thought, “Okay, this is it.” It made two more cucumbers. I was busy for a week, and didn’t do anything but turn on the drip. I went out to weed. There were six cucumbers.

I panicked. I gave two to Yvonne, my eighty-something neighbor. My whole family is laying in wait for our prodigal neighbor Scott (single guy, never at home) to pop by for a change of clothes. We wait for Kaye to go by on her evening walk. All so we can get rid of the cucumbers.

We went to a friend’s house, and I forgot to bring a cucumber. Our friend came in from the garden, bearing produce for a salad, and I said, “Oh, I meant to bring you a cucumber.”

His wife said, “Don’t you dare, we were hoping you’d take a few home.”

I said, “Not a chance.”

Monday, July 17, 2006

This is the danger of long hair and amateur photography. It's a little like "Mr. Thumb goes to Niagra Falls, Paris, or Disneyland," except in my case it's "Wild hair assaults people, grabs forks off of tables, gets stuck on doorknobs, and blows in front of camera lenses."

But it's a nice photo of my water lilies--behind the obligatory hair.
Men and Women Do Speak Different Languages

Recently while having breakfast at a local restaurant, I was able to overhear the following conversation by a thirty-something couple, who are either living together or married.

Woman: “I just love how the bedroom is turning out. The color is really beautiful.”

Man: Continues to read the paper.

Woman: “The new bedding really compliments the new wall color. I think the new duvet cover is great.”

Man: Continues to read the paper.

Woman: “What do you think of the duvet cover?”

Man: The slightest flicker of emotion flashes across the man’s face. He has a sip of coffee.

Woman: She waits expectantly.

Man: He has to say something.

Woman: She waits expectantly.

Man: He hasn’t the slightest idea of what a duvet* is.

Woman: Puts down her newspaper.

Man: “I like it.”

Woman: Smiles, and goes back to her paper.

*For those of you who don't speak "Woman Language," a duvet is like a blanket that goes on top of the bed, hence the color of the duvet cover would affect the overall look of the room, particularly affecting the color scheme.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Tonight I lay in the hammock,
swaying in the cool breeze,
and watched bats catch mosquitoes
against the darkening dusk.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tonight there was a spider in the bathroom. A really big spider. I couldn't kill it. First of all it's bad for my karma, and second of all it's cruel--I am much bigger than a defenseless little spider.

I had my husband put it outside. I had to do this because if I don't, my cat will eat the spider, get an abscess, need to go to the vet, and I will have to pay three hundred dollars. This will not happen.

It's not because I am afraid of spiders, because I'm not.


I'm not.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I Was Feeling So Virtuous

Yesterday I cleaned out my closet and only found seven handbags. I kept four, and put three in the giveaway box. I felt so virtuous.

Today while looking for my hand weights, so I could have tank top arms for the summer, I found an entire bag of handbags hiding in the back of the cupboard. I didn’t have the heart to go through them.

I never did find my weights. I used rocks. God knows we have enough of them around here.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I am not an archaeologist, nor do I play one on t.v. I did however go out into the field with my husband, who is an archaeologist. This is not nearly as romantic as it sounds, because archaeology is all about dirt.

I spent two days breaking dirt clods with a trowel and dodging clouds of dust, all in the 90 degree plus sun.

We found about twenty artifacts. What are artifacts?

Rocks. Yep, rocks.

Friday, July 07, 2006

You know you’re out of step with mainstream society when…

a Hare Krishna calls you a hippie.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Men and Women Do Speak Different Languages: On the Subject of Soap

What is it with men and soap? I have the following conversation almost daily with my son.

I will send my son into the bathroom to wash his face and hands (note the verb). Seconds later he will reappear, all damp and shiny faced.
I will ask, “Did you wash?”
He will say, “Yes.”
I will say, “Did you use soap?”
He will say, “No.”
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, washing implies some sort of cleansing was involved, therefore: soap?

I am sorry to say this in not just a little boy issue. Now, before I get into some serious trouble, my husband uses soap to wash in the shower, but this fastidiousness doesn’t extend to housecleaning. Here is an example of a housecleaning conversation.

“Sweetie, can you wash the guest bathroom for me?”
“Sure,” says my husband, the sweetest man in the world.
A few minutes later, as he emerges from the guest bathroom, I ask, “All done?”
He answers, “Yep.”
I’ll say, “Did you use soap?”
He’ll answer, “No, I just cleaned with water.”

Is the male of the species allergic to soap? What is the word for “soap” in man-language? What is the word for “clean” in man-language?

I am at a loss.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Yoga Clothes

I have been doing yoga for nine years--when I don’t do yoga, I know exactly what I’m missing.

But some days, the motivation is lacking. Like today. I am sitting here, fully dressed in my yoga attire—I could even go to a studio I’m so appropriately dressed. (I often do yoga at home in my jammies, especially in the summer when it’s hot.)

But alas, wearing yoga clothes does not give the same benefits as actually doing yoga.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A Spittin’ Contest

Today in our new and improved world we have such things as seedless watermelons. Now, no one can argue that they aren’t easier to eat. But I would say that some of the fun has gone out of them. As an adult, I can appreciate the contrast shiny black seeds make to the red flesh and the green and white rind-- removing them definitely takes away from the aesthetic value of the watermelon.

But the real problem involves spitting. You just can’t spit the sad little seeds that are left, mere shadows of the great shiny black ones.

Old fashion watermelons, complete with seeds, takes me back to a long ago very hot Fourth of July evening. After the usual fireworks (sparklers, fountains and Whistling Petes) and ice cream, we got down to business and watermelons. We spit those little seeds as far as we could, my brother, my cousins and I. We got some pretty good distance too. Those were the days.

The next summer, my grandfather’s rose garden got a nice crop of watermelons.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

It's too hot to blog.
It's too hot to breathe.
It's too hot to eat.
I had pie a la mode for dinner.
I allowed my child to eat pie a la mode for dinner.
I have a friend who plans on eating only popsicles for the rest of the summer.
It's hot.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Jack and the Broomstick

Last week while I was looking for my broom to sweep the front porch, my neighbor Jack called across the street to ask what I was doing. I responded that I had misplaced my broom.

He asked it I was going for a ride.

It took me a minute and then I laughed and waved.

What I should’ve said was, “I was out late last night, and I forgot where I parked it.”

Thursday, June 29, 2006


It’s Thursday, the most glorious day of the week. It is a day like any other day, but better. Thursday is Trash Day. Buddy loves trash day. The song of the diesel powered, smog coughing behemoths echo through the neighborhood all day, starting as early as 6:30 am, in joyful disregard of the city ordinance for morning quiet.

Our house must be at the juncture of at least three different routes, because even though our trash is only picked up once, we can hear the bull elephant bellow of the trucks ringing through the neighborhood all day. Each time a truck starts its song, Buddy springs to action. He runs for the back door, skidding across the laminate flooring and hurls himself against the plate glass until someone lets him outside. He flies down the back steps and across the yard, a white streak, tiny feet barely skimming the ground. He barks. And barks. And barks. Sometimes he barks so much he gets hoarse. He barks some more.

This ritual is repeated several times on Trash Day. He runs back and forth along the fence, jumping and barking. He won’t stay outside all day where he can bark with reckless abandon, unhindered by human barriers. No, he has to come in after each salvo. My son I decided to count how many times we let him in and out on any given Trash Day.

So far we are up to four—it’s 7:30 am. It’s Thursday, Trash Day, the Most Glorious Day of the Week.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Jumping out of the Window

My lovely eightysomething neighbor Yvonne is a very independent person. She drives her 1970 Ford truck, no power steering or brakes, all over town. When I first moved to this house just over nine years ago, she still got up on her roof to sweep the leaves off of it every fall.

Well, a while back Yvonne was cleaning out her service porch. A box fell against the door, unexpectedly closing it. The doorknob was broken, and once closed the door would not open again. The phone began to ring. This was Yvonne’s daughter Jan. If Yvonne didn’t answer the phone, Jan would call again and again and then worry.

So Yvonne did what any of us in her shoes would do—she jumped! Yep, right out the window.

Jan found her flat on her back out in the yard an hour later when she came by. Yvonne had to ‘fess up to her aerial antics. Jan did her usual chores at her mother's house, but she didn't say a word to her mother the rest of the hour she was there.

Yvonne has been grounded.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Somebody’s Gonna Get Fired

It’s late June, the height of tourist season on the beach in California, prime tourist destination of the country and the world. The dollars are just pouring in. The hotels are full, and just try getting a place to park coastally in the entire state.

Imagine that you're in beautiful downtown La Jolla. People are strolling down the street, they're playing in the Cove, they’re sunning on the beach—or they would be, but it’s raining. Not just a few refreshing sprinkles mid afternoon when you need it anyway--it’s pouring. There’s thunder and lightening. In La Jolla.

Somebody’s gonna get fired.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Buddy’s Schedule

After making his point by barking at the Motorcycle Guy around 8:00 am, twice if necessary, Buddy goes back to bed with my son. He gets up around 9:00 for the day, goes in and out to eat, use the facilities, lie in the sun, and get pats. For all of these activities he must be let out, and then in again. Though Buddy is a dog, he clearly thinks of himself as a human, and so must sit inside with the other humans, on the couch if possible.

The highlight of a normal day, a non-Trash Day, is the arrival of the postman. Buddy can hear the postman from several houses up. He races to the front door, from the backyard if necessary. Buddy can open the screen door (I wouldn’t mind so much if he’d just close it). He barks, frenzied barking, like we’re all in mortal danger. The evil postman has arrived bearing deadly mail. The postman comes everyday, and everyday Buddy must protect us against the known danger of Direct Mail advertising circulars. Everyday Buddy strives to save us from certain peril— and it works, everyday the postman leaves us unharmed.

Today, the postman just sighs and puts the mail in the box by the front door. He knows that Buddy is just the first dog on this street, and that Buddy’s barks announce his eminent arrival, and sure enough, the chorus of barking begins to cascade down the block. The postman once told me that if he can manage to get by without Buddy hearing him, a rare day indeed, that the other dogs are caught unaware, and many of them continue to nap on their doggie beds, and don’t even bother to bark. But Buddy’s vigilance reminds them that they too are supposed to be on guard against the evil postman.

Today, the Postman shakes his head while I reassure him that if Buddy did get out, he’d just jump on him and want pats; I am not sure about this; Buddy really hates the postman. Buddy loves everybody, but he really hates the postman. I can’t figure it out. It’s been the same postman for many years. I talk to the postman. The postman is friendly. We give a tip to the postman at Christmas. Buddy hates him. Buddy is a smart dog. Buddy is smarter than some people I know. If Buddy had opposable thumbs and could talk, he’d be human. Buddy hates the postman, and he barks at him everyday.

Buddy will bark several more times during the day, necessitating that we let him in and out so that he can keep his schedule. When there’s nothing to bark at, he will go outside and run around the yard barking, just hoping to drum up some business. That’s a normal day for Buddy, a day like any other day, unless it’s Thursday; Thursday is Trash Day.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Packrat

My dad is a packrat, not your garden variety, "Fibber McGee's Closet" kind of packrat, not your "can't close the garage door" kind of packrat, not even your "needs to rent storage space" kind of packrat. My dad is such a packrat that he had to buy a warehouse. A big warehouse.

Recently my dad called me and said, “Do you need a freezer?”
“No, Dad, I still have the freezer you gave me five years ago.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. I don’t really even need that freezer. We really don’t use it.”

You see, my dad loves to buy things. It's not that he needs, or even wants the things--he just likes to buy them. He loves a good deal. He loves to bargain for the lowest prices. He loves garage sales. He will stop by someone's house--a complete stranger mind you--and ask if a particular object seen in the yard is for sale. He just loves the thrill of the hunt.

Once when I was at my parent’s house, everyone was sitting around watching Field of Dreams, it was the scene when they turn on the stadium lights for the first time in the corn fields. Me, being a smart aleck said, “Oh, sure, where do you get stadium lights?” My dad said, "I have some.”


Lately I’ve been looking at my closet doors, thinking that I would really rather have those louvered accordion-style folding ones. I thought to myself, hmmmm--no, he couldn’t. So I took a chance before heading to my local home store, and called him up. I described what I was looking for, and guess what he said?

He said, “What size do you need?”

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Italian Restaurant Décor

What is up with Italian restaurant décor? Whether it’s the corner pizza joint, one of the many chain Italian restaurants around, or a fine dining establishment, they all look the same. There are variations in Chinese restaurants, sure red booths and paper lanterns abound, but there still seems to be room for the individual taste of the management. Why isn’t it this way in Italian restaurants?

Is there a factory somewhere in China called World of Italian Restaurant Décor pumping out Italian kitsch? Is each new owner of an Italian restaurant required to take the pledge, “I solemnly swear to cover my tables with red checked table cloths, hang Chianti bottles from the ceiling rafters, and adorn the walls with signed black and white, 8 x 10 publicity glossies of Rat Pack members, no matter how exclusive the clientele or refined the menu?”

After eating Italian food, the refrains of “That’s Amore” can haunt me for days. Are there Sinatra, Martin, and Bennett collections called, Old Favorites for Italian Restaurants? One Italian restaurant I frequent has expanded on this theme: they play Italian language lessons in the bathroom. This is not the place where I want to learn how to say, “Excuse me sir, where is the post office, Scuzi Signore, Posti donde esta?” In case you can’t tell, I don’t listen very carefully to the lessons.

How much of our precious petroleum supply goes for making plastic grapes to drape over mini wine barrels? Do they ever dust the grapes, or is the dust some kind of stock from the factory faux finish?

Who knew Sophia Loren made so many movies with so many low cut peasant blouses—or are all of the stills from the same movie?

It seems strange to me to see a clothesline, indoors, hanging overhead while I eat my Chicken Parmesan. Or, is it just me? Do Italian restaurants look like this in Italy? Oh my God, what do American restaurants look like in Italy?

Oh, McDonald’s, never mind.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Motorcycle Guy

Our dog Buddy has a schedule. Aren’t all Jack Russell Terriers named Buddy? We got ours from the shelter—ready named, but I’ve asked around, and they’re all named Buddy. He gets up on normal days at about 8:00 am. This is because at 8:00 am the Motorcycle Guy starts his bike.

Buddy springs to action, leaps off the bed, and pounds on the back door until someone lets him outside. He flies down the back steps and bolts across the yard, a white streak, barely touching the ground. He barks. And barks. Hopefully, the Motorcycle Guy hasn’t forgotten something, because if he has, he turns off his bike and goes back inside. Ten minutes later, he starts his bike again and Buddy is back at the fence barking.

We are not really sure why the Motorcycle Guy sets him off. Don’t get me wrong, Buddy barks. He barks at the parrots in the yard (yes, we have a flock of wild parrots that roost in my neighbor’s tree). He barks at the postman. He barks at people who walk by on the sidewalk, especially if they have dogs. He barks at me. Buddy barks.

But he has a special bark for the Motorcycle Guy, a special vehemence that he saves for the Motorcycle Guy. I think he hates motorcycles--perhaps it is the sound they make. Perhaps the Motorcycle Guy is Buddy’s alarm clock; after all, it is the first bark of the day. My son disagrees; he has a theory. My son thinks that in a past life Buddy too was a Motorcycle Guy. He thinks that Buddy misses the lifestyle, the freedom of the open road, the wind in his hair, the good gas mileage. My son thinks that Buddy just wants to go for a ride.

Tomorrow's blog: Italian Restaurant Decor

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I Have Blogged

I guess this is my introductory entry, you know, where I say interesting, thought-provoking things so you’ll keep reading my blog.

Well, it's official, I have blogged. I had to add the word "blog" to my spell check though, and my computer is not even very old. I have had the blog set up since the fall, when on a whim I took a blogging workshop. It sounded so great that I decided I wanted one. So I got one. I was the proud owner of a blog. And then, I couldn't think of anything to say. I mean anything of import. I talk all of the time. I talk for a living. I write all of the time. I write for a living. I write for fun. I have three on line journals. For eight months I have tried to think of something to say, all the while spouting off to the world around me about anything that came into my head, so today, I spouted to my blog. The world can rest easier.

I guess I started a blog because I needed another outlet for my smartass attitude. My friends, family, and students will probably appreciate that I have someplace else to air my odd comments and opinions. For I have finally decided what my blog will be about, not the profound things in life, but my mundane observations, you know kind of like Jane Austin, but without the eloquent writing and beautiful dresses.

I had decided not to tell anyone the address of my blog, even though in the blogging workshop our instructor said that we should tell everyone, so they could read it, you know. But I thought, no way, I don't want people reading the fruit of the inner workings of my complex mind. So, I didn't tell people, and I didn't write. But now, to heck with that, I am not brilliant--hell, I don't even spell well, and blogging will not change that. Anybody bored out in cyberspace read away. Get it while it's hot.

Tomorrow's blog: The Motorcycle Guy