Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trip Log: Brief Update, Winter Wonderland Edition

So, we've been without Internet up at a little cabin in South Fork (home of Kamp Komfort of Griswold fame), having a great time relaxing, sledding, and skiing*. Now we've moved on to Pueblo to see family, and I have no time for a real update, and no time to read blogs.

Just wanted to say Happy Holidays, and I'll be back with a proper post soon.

Hope everyone is having a great and barf-free holiday.

*Hubby is a great boarder, the kids had their first time at ski school, but GEW has yet to have a lesson. Next time, it's my turn!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Trip Log: Barf Edition

Day One of Giant Road-Trip:

8:20am: Departure! This is a record for us.
8:25am: Return some library books.
8:30am: Back to house to retrieve Pink Panther DVD (it is a staple for road trips, and regular readers will remember that the Girl one claimed that God is the Pink Panther, but I can't find that particular blog entry to provide a link for you).
8:35am: Dropped some mail into U.S. Mail box.
8:40am: Starbucks.
8:57am: Driving!
Noon: McDonald's playland in Tehachapi. The boy is sad that there is no snow (as in previous year).
1:10: Back on road.
5:15pm: Arrive in Kingman, AZ without any stops!
5:30pm: Family swim at the Comfort Inn indoor pool.
9:00pm: Dinner delivered.
10:15ish: Kids and hubby in bed. Son and hubby asleep. Daughter watches me read.

Day Two:

6:30am: Kids awake. (Whaa?)
6:50am: I take kids to free continental breakfast and loiter in the breakfast room so hubster can sleep.
8:30am: Waking up hubby. Kids watch Sponge Bob while I read The Glass Castle.
9:15am: Hubby and kids swim while I shower and pack up.
11:07am: Hit the road.
1:00pm (ish)--lunch in Flagstaff.
2:30ish: Hit the road.
3:30pm: Take Griswold-like detour to see Meteor Crater, which is actually quite cool, in spite of the exorbitant entrance fee.
4:30pm: Hit the road.
6:30pm: Gas up in Gallup, NM. Kids are watching October Sky.
8:00pm: Boy begins to complain of a headache and a stomachache.
8:30pm: Boy is really uncomfortable. We tell him to hang in there. Only about an hour to Durango. I, of course, ask if he's nauseous, but since the boy hasn't barfed in 3.5 years, he has no idea.
8:47pm: Hubby asks boy if we need to stop. Boy says "no" but starts coughing. I say, "Yeah, pull over, pull over. The coughing means . . .

Barfing begins. Hubby pulls over. Barfing continues. Cleaning ensues.

9:15pm: Back on the road. Boy has the dog's food bowl in his lap. Which he uses.
9:25pm: Boy falls asleep with bowl of barf in his lap. Girl is also asleep now.
9:30pm: We pull over to empty bowl, and soon cross into Colorado.
10:00ish: Voila! We make it the the Doubletree in Durango. And we make it upstairs before boy barfs again.
10:30pm: Kids asleep. Room service closed for the night. Hubster and I eat saltine crackers for dinner, followed by port, chocolate, and an episode of House Hunters on cable. No more barfing, thank the Pink Panther!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Which way? Which Way?

I considered boring you with a "To Do" list, but there are so many different things to put on it that I really don't have time to type it. The short version:

By Saturday, I must . . .

Finish Christmas shopping, shipping, wrapping
Finish drafting a conference paper
Serve as a judge for a poetry contest (i.e., read poems and meet with other judges)
Clean the house
Take care of various time-dated bill and insurance type things (bleh)
Pack the family (dog included) for the big road trip to Colorado

Oh, look! I bored you with a "To Do" list after all!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


In the midst of the holiday madness (er, I mean, spirit), let's learn from the animals, shall we?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dear Santa

(From the Boy to Santa [see illustrated version above]*)

To Santu,

For crismis I wont

  1. The dome habutat.
  2. Trieops.
  3. The fac venis flichrap.
  4. This haBtat and net ---->
  5. Bug wlld.
  6. Helcoptr and aer craft carier.
  7. Bug braslit.

(From the Girl to Santa--as told to GEW):

Sear Santa Clause and Mrs. Clause,

I hope you catch this letter because if you don't, I would be so sad about it.

I want the Original Barbie, a bottle for Bitty Baby, and some diapers for Bitty Baby. I also want a toy ice cream set and the makeup set with lights.

I also want a new ballerina suit and a tiara, and a Glitzy Getup dress-up set. I would also like Tubtime Pirates and Kitty Corner Playmates.

You can not give me some of it. I won't care.

Have a Happy Christmas. I hope everything is easy for you. Have an easy and fun Christmas.

The Girl

*I found my camera! Well, actually, hubby found it on the floor behind the bongo drums while looking for his battery charger, but he didn't even know he'd found it because he thought it was his helmet cam. Then when I went over to show it to him, I spotted his battery charger. Which was all followed by much rejoicing, thankfulness, and self-congratulation.

P.S. If you haven't checked it out yet (and I'm sure most of you have), go see the Mall Santa hilarity over at Chez Kitchen Witch.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Few Small Leeks

I have never had a green thumb. Sometimes I wonder if I have this weird subconscious urge to neglect my plants just to see if I can bring them back to life again. In general, I'm not good at any kind of detailed upkeep. So this year, when I planted my first garden in a while, I figured I'd just put the seeds in the ground, water them a bit, and see what happened. No $64 tomatoes for me. My hopes weren't too high since I live in a cool, foggy place, and sometimes tomatoes never even turn red here. It turns out I had both success and failure. Here are the results of my harvest:

  • Eight beautiful, delicious green beans
  • Bok choy that matured while we were out of town (the lizard ate the sad remainders)
  • Just a little bit of lettuce that provided for a couple of salads
  • No sweet peas (the plants all died from some kind of pest)
  • Four small, precious pumpkins

And tomatoes! I have three cherry tomato plants that were volunteers from last year's rotted fruit (from a small garden my husband had planted but that had not produced much). These volunteers have been quite productive and completely resistant to all pests and disease. In fact, I am still getting cherry tomatoes even though it's December. I've also gotten a fair number of full-sized tomatoes (they're called Mountain Time--or something like that). At first, they were getting weird spots and had problems, but as the weather cooled, I think the disease or pest was killed off even as the plant kept living and bearing fruit. Therefore, I'm still getting full-sized tomatoes. In December!

In addition, we have harvested from two of my son's experiments. Experiment #1: He took a sprouting red potato and buried it next to the calalilies in the front yard. A few months later: Voila! Two beautiful, delicious red potatoes. Best potatoes I've ever eaten.

Experiment #2: He planted leeks. (So did I, but mine failed.) First he put them in a little critter keeper until they sprouted, and then he put them next to the garden in a reservoir planter. He planted them in July. This weekend, he harvested his leeks. There were only three, and they were small, but they smelled wonderful, and I used them to make potato leek soup. True, he didn't like the soup. But he was proud of those leeks. And I was proud of him.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Like most other fortyish people in this country, I have vague memories of Every Which Way But Loose. I haven't seen it since I was a kid, but the images in my mind included Clint Eastwood looking muscular and irritated in junkyard-ish setting, with Ruth Gordon standing in a truck bed telling him what's what. I have no idea if my memories are accurate, but that's what I see. I also see Sondra Locke, and, of course, I see Clyde the Orangutan.

I don't remember wanting an Orangutan when I saw the movie. In fact, I've always been convinced that monkeys are mischievous--in a poltergeist sort of way--and dirty, and I've never considered them pet-worthy.

Until I saw this video that my mom sent me. Now I kind of want one to go with my dog:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Although my mom cooked the Thanksgiving dinner (thanks, Mom!), I did make this last week. I used it for burritos the first night, and then I made enchiladas for guests with the leftovers the next night. Muy easy, and muy bueno.

And then I made these on T-giving day, and everyone loved them. And they were especially easy since I have a giant rosemary bush in the front yard.

And I also made this, but I accidentally left it on high while we all when to the beach, so the corn got rubbery. And I didn't have cayenne pepper, so I tried to substitute, but in general, I just didn't get the spices right. I will try again.

And now I have the ingredients to make this, which I will do this week. I'm thinking of doing it today, but I really need to get busy reading The Hermit in English Literature: The Beginning to 1660 by Charles P. Weaver, so, you know, I have competing obligations.

But thanks to all of my bloggy friends for the recipes! My family thanks you, too.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Hear that? It's silence. Well, actually, it's the dog chewing on his dog bone. But otherwise. It's quiet.

After I take a breath and get a little dissertation work done, I might be able to think of something pithy or worthwhile to say about the kids, the food, or something. Short version: the family, fun, and food were fantabulous!

But right now I need to go read (after I make a plate of leftovers). I am pages away from finishing the entirety of Eliza Haywood's Female Spectator. It is a small (but cool) club I'm joining.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That's the Question

Recent questions from the Girl:

Who was the first person in the world?

How do you die? (Followed by "How long does it take?")

What is the last number?

And, while watching "Snoopy's Reunion," during which Snoopy and his litter mates are playing in a bluegrass jug band: "How do they know how to stand up?" (Taking for granted, I suppose, that they can play musical instruments.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Girl's First Invention

To reproduce the invention, you will need:

  • One baby doll
  • One (or two) pairs of small skivvies (a.k.a. underpants)
  • One small juice box with straw
  • One long ribbon
  • a little time alone in your bedroom
Put the skivvies on the baby doll. Stick the juice box upside down in the back of the skivvies with the straw sticking out the leg hole (near the butt). Secure the contraption with ribbon.

Then, go into living room, find your father, say, "Look, Daddy." Put the doll's butt up by Daddy's face, and squeeze the juice box. Listen to gurgle of juicy air, and delight at Daddy's surprise.

Voila! The farting baby doll.

P.S. I would SO love to include a photo with this post, but my camera is still MIA.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Car Talk

From the backseat of the car:

Girl: When I grow up, I'm not going to have a job.

Boy: How will you get money?

Girl: From my money box.

Boy: But what about when it runs out?

Girl: I won't spend it.

Boy: But how will you buy stuff?

Girl: I won't.

Boy (getting frustrated): But how will you buy cages for your animals?

Girl: I won't need cages.

Boy: But how will you pay for a house and food?

Girl: With the money in my money box!

Boy: But what about when it runs out??!!!!


Boy (starting to cry): That won't be enough to buy furniture!!!

Girl (after a pause, sounding hesitant and a bit panicked): I'll live with Gaga*. She already has all that stuff.

Boy: But what about your family? What about when you get married?

Girl (starting to sound teary-eyed): I won't get married. I'll be like Grandma.

Boy: But you'll get lonely!!!

Girl: (silence)

Me (looking in the review mirror and seeing her hold back the tears): Sweetie, are you okay?

Girl (shouting through full-on sobbing): I WANT TO STAY WITH YOU FOREVER, MOMMY!!!!!

Me: That's fine, sweetie. You can stay with me. [To the Boy] Do you want to stay with me, too?

Boy (with a sniffle): Yes.

Me: Great! We'll all just stay together forever.


*maternal grandmother

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dream Regression

So I guess I am paying a heavy price for the happy ending to Sunday night's teaching dream. Last night, I dreamed that I was late to the first class of the semester, and I couldn't find the room. I didn't have any of the class materials, and, at the last minute, I realized I was wearing my worn-out Guatemalan pants* and my ripped sweatshirt. And I had to pee really bad. And I was barefoot.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Teaching Dream, Director's Cut

One of the many wonderful things about sabbatical is the reduction in anxiety, which, in turn, leads to a reduction in those anxiety-induced teaching dreams that contain the following features: late on the first day, didn't know a class was on my schedule so I miss it and then can't find the room, don't have syllabus, don't have roster, students leave whenever I turn my back because I suck, and dreams (since my husband became a math lecturer) in which, suddenly, I have a calculus class on my schedule.

I have been (for the most part) spared these dreams while I've been on sabbatical. Until last night.

Yesterday evening, after the kiddie-poos went to bed, I decided to work on a syllabus for next spring while I watched the end of the Colts v. Patriots game*. Then, while sleeping last night, I had a teaching dream. It had a similar beginning to previous dreams. It was the first day of the semester. I didn't have a roster or syllabus. There was all kinds of loud noise (construction? music?) and I couldn't hear the students. The numbers kept dwindling (so I was worried about the class getting cancelled), and one student kept giving me lip. But then something unusual happened.

I had a short reading for them, and in my dream the reading was by Margaret Atwood. I started teaching through the noise and chaos, and whenver I looked up, there were more students in the chairs until, eventually, the room was packed. This never happens in my teaching dreams. The number never increases.

Then, I focused on one sentence in the text, and students started paying attention. This was the sentence: "I was on the right sight of men now."

I know that's a weird sentence for Margaret Atwood to have written, but, hey, it was a dream, and it's amazing that it was even in a decipherable language. I began to focus on the word "now" and it's implications, and the class ended on a high note.

So it's a bummer that I had a teaching dream, but it's absolutely amazing and weird that it ended on a high note**. That has never happened before.

*WOOT! Did you see the end of that game? Peyton Manning has that whole "I-got-this" Obamaesque cool vibe, and he is totally amazing (except for the fact that he contributes large amounts of money to politicians who make me cringe). But this almost makes up for his politics, and you totally need to check it out.

**Although it did cause me to wake up at 5:30am, which is a big fat drag when you know that your kids will wake up in 30-45 minutes, so you can't go back to sleep. And, BTW, the whole daylight savings oh-you-get-an-extra-hour-of-sleep-when-you-"fall back" is a bunch of hooey when, for the next month, your kids will not be on daylight savings time and they will get up at 6:00am every day, thereby causing you to lose at about 30 hours of sleep, all told.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Now that's REALLY scary


Season Two.

John Ritter.


Friday, November 13, 2009


My son (who is in first grade) is often praised for his artistic skills and for his engineering-like sensibilities. But today he received an award for his "understanding of the mechanics of writing." This award was triggered by his recently improved writing skills and his pronouncement in class that "a sentence in not a sentence without a period."

Tears of joy, people. Tears of joy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

All I Want for Christmas

In the car tonight, I was trying to distract the children from the inoculations they had just received, so I asked what they wanted for Christmas:

Boy: I want a dome habitat that I saw in a catalog.

Girl: All I want is peacefulness. That's all I want.

Me: Oh, Roo . . .

Girl: Wait. The one thing I want more than peacefulness is that Snow White dress.

Me: And then peacefulness?

Girl: Yeah.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dog Tired

I love a tired dog. A tired dog is so good. I love the way a tired dog lays so flat on the ground, or curled up on a pillow (or on a bed, as the case may be). I love the way a tired dog doesn't come bother me when he hears me in the kitchen making a sandwich. I love that I feel so good about myself after I have facilitated a dog's happy tiredness. When a dog is really tired, I almost wish that I didn't have a not-on-the-couch rule, so that he could jump up and lay (lie?) next to me while I read. Like a cat.

edit-to-add:// That would be the dog lying like a cat--not me reading like a cat.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Out of the Bloggice

Since my mother-in-law (who is lovely) is visiting, and since I've been cleaning house in preparation, and since I've been grocery shopping in preparation, and since I've been birthday shopping in preparation for her birthday (which is today), and since she's going to be here for a few days, and since we're going to be celebrating her visit and birthday all week, and since I'm only left with an hour to work on my dissertation today, I'm just putting up a post to say, "Hey, y'all. I won't be around much at my place or yours for a few days, so I hope you have a good week!

I will be here in GEWland, enjoying family but twisting my hair in true dissertation panic.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Kind of Consistency

In the spirit of my tendency to quit things, I think I'm going to give up on NaNoWriMo. Yes, yes. Already. But my mother-in-law came to town, and, well, I should be working on my dissertation for goodness sake! What was I thinking? It's just that NaNo is SOOOO shiny. I'm not going to totally abandon the novel that I started*, but if I write 50,000 words (or, shall we say, 5,000 words) this month, those words should be about Eliza Haywood.

See? I'm totally consistent at quitting things.

Gobble, gobble. Dabble, dabble.

*Please excuse that split infinitive.

Friday, November 6, 2009


So, some of you may have wondered what happened to that whole homesteading/simplicity business that I brought up in June. Some of you found this blog during those posts and probably thought you'd see a lot more of that thread. Well, it's still on my mind, but here's the problem.

I'm a dabbler. I live in fits and starts. It's hard for me to see things through. I have started and then quit (and then sometimes restarted) a lot of things in my life: guitar, piano, violin, french horn, cello, cheerleading, ballet, rifle squad, jobs, careers, aikido, voice lessons, running, crafts, etc. And I am irregular when it comes to many other things: yoga, writing, surfing, gardening, cooking, etc. I get really into something, and then I get busy, and it all falls apart. My commitment cannot hold. Or I find something new. Look, shiny!

In fact, it is this tendency to dabble, to start and stop, that leads me to rely on the whole goodenoughwoman philosophy. But it's clear to me that sometimes my "goodenough" is actually not really good enough at all and that I'm just limping along, which is especially problematic when it comes to the things at the top of the list: family, dissertation, work.

So this is an apology of sorts. If you come to the GEW blog looking for focus and commitment, you will be disappointed. In fact, I've been told that blogs should have a focus, a niche. In that regard, this blog is barely limping along.

That said, I have gotten over 20 tomatoes this week (some cherry, some regular), and I would give you a picture of those tomatoes, but I can't find my new camera. Just one more symptom of the entropy* that is my life.

*[E]ntropy represents the "potential for disorder" in a system. When a system has more degrees of freedom and more constituents, there are more possible states for it to occupy. While some of these states may exhibit patterns that are very ordered, most of these states would be considered disordered (a quite apt excerpt from Wikipedia's entropy page).

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Yesterday morning, when my son was home sick (well, not totally sick anymore, but we were following the 24-hour-without-fever rule), we hung out on the couch all morning while he drew and I read. We chatted and laughed and then later danced together to Lyle Lovett.

Yesterday evening, my daughter put her hands on my face, stroked my hair, and said, "You're beautiful."

Thank God I have these moments to throw perspective on the so-called challenges of life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nano, Nano

Dissertation procrastinator by day.

Novel procrastinator by night.

Housework procrastinator 24/7.

Whew. I'm busy.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Kindle: First Impressions

Well, let me say that I was pretty much dancing on the sidewalk as the Fed Ex lady walked up the path. Unfortunately, she got here just before the kids got home, and we had a school carnival to attend before I could settle in and fiddle with it.

Since then, I have done a little fiddling. So far, the screen seems good. I know that some people have complained that it's too grey. For my taste, I think a bit more contrast might be good, but I know that too much contrast can be hard on the eyes even if it seems easier to read, so I'm okay with it.

It's awesome for instant gratification. Want a book? You can get it in 60 seconds. Also, I downloaded a two-week trial of the New Yorker, and it allows me to go straight to the cartoons and scroll through them.

I do, however, feel a lack of orientation. When I start to read something on the Kindle, I don't get a look at the cover. So far, it seems to me that the cover of the book doesn't download with the book. Instead, the Kindle shoots you straight to the first page of text. You can skip back to the title page, etc., but I haven't been able to go to a cover. Similarly, with the New Yorker, I haven't found a way to just look at the Table of Contents page. Maybe it's there, but I haven't found it yet. I know that the page numbers would be moot, but I still would like the orientation aspect.

Typically, when I pick up a text, the cover, color, size, and texture all serve to cue my brain to what I'm getting ready to read. In contrast, the Kindle plops me right into the writing, and it's hard to make the mental shift to what I'm reading. Perhaps this will come in time. Nevertheless, I do wonder why the Kindle doesn't flash the cover before it takes me back to my reading page. It would be a great cue to my brain.

More feedback to come as I actually start to read books on it . . .

edit:// Okay. I spoke to soon. I found a way to display the cover and the TOC. Yay! I really like the way the grey scale images look--like beautiful sketches or something.

Scary Movies

We're talking about Scary Movies over at Ink's place. Here are some that top my list:

Burnt Offerings (1976)
Tesis (1996)
Halloween (1978)
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

perhaps Salem's Lot (1979)? I liked The Others a lot, too. I don't know if was the scariest, but it had a great balance of the creepy, the scary, the beautiful, and the mysterious.

and the hand movie that I mentioned in the previous post--perhaps it was The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)?

What am I forgetting?

And perhaps I should make another list: Movies that were so scary I didn't see them.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bits and Pieces

  • Had a mammogram today; happy birthday to me! This is my first post-40 mammo, but I had two others in my early adult years because of a lump (which turned out to be nothing). But I am pleased to report they don't really hurt anymore. The one I had today was barely even uncomfortable. Of course, that could be because my bubbies (which are the smallest anyone has ever seen--even smaller than Kate Hudson's) are much more, shall we say, squishable than they were before I nursed two children.
  • I got carded at the grocery store yesterday!
  • I ordered a Kindle, and it arrives today. I never thought I would want one, and then, suddenly, I wanted one very badly. Hubby got it for me for my birthday. I am very excited, and I hope that I love it.
  • I bought some Dansko boots today (thanks, Mom!), and they are very "kicky."
  • I love what Inktopia is doing over at her place (favorite scary books and movies). Check it out! Mwuahahahaaaaaa . . . .
  • Does anybody remember the Sammy Terry TV program that showed scary movies? Do you remember the one about the hand that crept around the scary house? Gawd. I couldn't go to the toilet by myself for days.

Monday, October 26, 2009

From the Mouth of Someone Else's Babe

At the school playground on Sunday, my kids were playing with a couple of other kids. One of them, a little three-year-old boy, found two army men in the grass.

My Girl: Hey, those are from Toy Story!

The little boy: No.

My Girl: Yes.

The little boy: No.

Me: Oh, yeah, sweetie that's right. A whole group of army men like that green one. Good memory!

Boy: Unh-unh.

Me: Yes, I think so.

Boy: No they weren't, WOMAN. You IDIOT.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How I Can Tell I'm Older (if not Totally Old)

  • It's hard to read small print close up.
  • Sometimes kids guess my age to be 65 or 70.
  • My hips ache after I sit on the couch for more than 25 minutes.
  • I am never carded.
  • I need yearly mammograms.
  • My students, in evaluations, sometimes call me a "nice lady."
  • Rich foods cause me GI trouble.
  • I love NPR and PBS.
  • Leaving the house after 8:00pm feels so strange.
  • I think a lot about retirement (even though it's probably over 20 years away).
  • The other night, I was brushing my teeth, and I couldn't remember whether or not I had peed right before I brushed my teeth. Only about 90 seconds had passed, and I could not remember. I had to just sit on the toilet and try again in order to find out.
  • I'm turning over 40 this week.

I am sure there are more things. But since it's past 10:00pm and I'm old, I can't remember the other things.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Conference Bound

Dear Conference Panel Leader,

Thank you SO much for accepting my paper within 24 hours of me sending you the proposal. Such great turn around! And thank you for saying you are enthusiastic about my paper.

What you don't know is that it's been about 11 years since I've presented a conference paper, and there's still a lot I don't know about my area of study.

So, now I will start researching the topic in earnest so that I can write a decent paper and avoid being the ignorant asshat who drives your panel into the ground.

Thanks again!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

On Two Wheels!

The Boy rode his bike without training wheels for the first time today! Woohoo!

I wasn't there, but thank God hubby made a video (while also spotting the boy, which is impressive).

When I got home, did the boy jump up and down and brag? No.

Boy: Mom, guess what?!

Me: What?!

Boy: I found a baby walking stick!

Me: Cool!

Boy: [gives details of finding bug]

Me: How was bike riding?

Boy: Great. I rode without training wheels.

Me: Really?

Boy: Yes.

Girl: He did! I saw him!

Me: That's so great!

Boy: Come see my bug!

He clearly was not as impressed as his parents were. He decided to do it, and now it's done. No big deal. For him, that is.

He's six, and it took him a while to get into bike riding. He has always cared much more about fishing and visiting tide pools. Once he started riding with the training wheels, we'd see all kinds of younger kids riding without them. We tried not to push him, told it was no big deal. Secretly, we wondered if we should push him.

We are now feeling much more comfortable with the reality that the Boy will do things when he's ready. Swimming, bike riding--they come in time. The same will happen for other necessary milestones, I'm sure. Like reading and surfing.

Happy bike riding everyone!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Out of the Office

I have a guest post over at T30SB today. Stop by over there if you feel like it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The God-Pod

Let's move on from that last post, shall we? I've realized that the title is very disturbing.

So, over a year ago, my husband helped his friend move. As a result, he received an old i-Pod from his friend's fiance. It had belonged to her old boyfriend, and she didn't want it anymore because didn't suit her tastes and because it was an unnecessary reminder of the ex.

This i-Pod has over 3,000 songs, and my husband dubbed it the God-Pod because of the quantity of songs along with the nature of the music. We have found it to be a great road trip companion.

Just today, as I drove into town (to bring in hubby's leather satchel, which he left by the front door) and back, the following artists popped up on shuffle play:

Elton John
The Presidents of the United States of America
Michael Jackson
Alice in Chains
Elvis Costello
English Beat
Neil Young (live)
Rod Stewart
The Go-Gos
Lucinda Williams
Quiet Riot
Culture Club
Escape Club

I'm forgetting some of the others, and it's worth mentioning that I skipped some of the songs (but I did not skip Quiet Riot, oh no I did not). That is one problem with the God-Pod: you sometimes have to skip stuff. But occasionally, I'll be driving along and, suddenly, T'Pau is playing, and I'm like, "OMG, it's T'Pau!"

The other problem is that it doesn't seem to have much music from the past 10 years. But if you went to high school in the 80s? You'd love the G-Pod.

Finally, does this picture of Quiet Riot (circa 2002) disturb you as it does me?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oatmeal, Tomatos, and Vaginas

Well, here I am, at the coffee shop, with at least seven hours ahead of me to read and write! Yee-ha! Of course, I am starting off with procrastination-by-blogging. I have three unrelated things to tell you, so blog unity is now out the window.

1. I am eating oatmeal (with milk, raisins, and brown sugar) and drinking a chai latte. These things make me happy (although there is slight sugar overkill, so I will seek out something savory for lunch).

2. I haven't blogged much about my sustainability/simplicity enterprise. With all of the travel and preparations for TSB's wedding, home and hearth haven't been in the forefront. But soon, I will post a few photos of my very meager harvest. You will be impressed by it's meagerness.

3. Conversation over crafts yesterday afternoon:

Me to Hubby: It's going to take me a while to figure out what the heck I'm doing [not sure what I was talking about--could have been anything].

Girl: You said, "What the heck."

Me: Yes, I did.

Girl: You could say, "Holy Vagina!"

Hubby: [Laughter}

Me: Yes, I suppose I could.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moon Pies and Marriage

I just ate a Moon Pie. The only bad thing about my Moon Pie was that it was a mini-Moon Pie. I wish I had more.

I got the Moon Pie pie from one of the Out-of-Town bags (fondly known as OOT bags) lovingly prepared by the Thirty-Something Bride for her OOT guests. As we check into the hotel, were were given the OOT bag, which contained all manners of schwag, the best of which was the bottled water and the Moon Pie. There was only one Moon Pie, so I kept it for myself, saving it for today when I was home alone while the kiddies are at school and the hubby is at work. Don't feel bad for them. They have never had a Moon Pie and have no idea that they have missed something grand.

The wedding was absolutely fabulous, and I did my best to serve the beautiful bride as her MOH (a.k.a. Matron of Honor, or "Mo" if you prefer). Mostly, it was just great to see her wedded to her tall, charming, and funny Southern man--to see her so happy.

As for the travel with the kids? They were fantastic and totally up to the challenge. Granted, their brains have turned into a yellow, spongy matter from all of the Sponge Bob they watched, but that's really not so different from the pre-Sponge Bob state of their brains, so I guess they are fine. Oh, and there was also all that candy. And now I'm thinking about this.

Tomorrow, I begin dissertation work in earnest. I mean it. I have two months to crank out a chapter (after I research it first), draft an article, submit and write a conference paper*, and generally figure out what the hell I'm doing. Sounds promising, no?

And now I have to leave my cozy little Moon Pie moment and face the coastal winter storm (i.e., rain and wind) to go gather my little ones from their respective schools. Although I love seeing their little faces when I pick them up, I wish I could hunker down for a few hours of rainy day research. But that will have to wait for tomorrow.

*Although if it is not accepted, I won't have to write it. Sounds win-win to me!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rites of Passage

Today I will drive 3.5 hours to LA, in rush hour traffic, with my two kids. They will have no one to hand them snacks, get out the art supplies, or pause the Pink Panther DVD, as I will be driving 75-80 mph on the 101 and the 405. And I am not stopping every 15 minutes, so I have advised them that they will need to be self sufficient. They will need to be like Survivorman in the backseat of the car.

Tomorrow the three of us will fly to Nashville for Thirty-Something Bride's wedding, and I will be flying solo with the chirren (Southern speak for "children"). I have purchased an entire season of Sponge Bob on DVD, and I have a portable DVD player with two sets of earbuds. Since the kids don't have cable, and they haven't seen Sponge Bob since summer, it should work wonders on the long flight.*

Hubby will follow us on Saturday.

We're all very excited about the wedding although the boy is a little apprehensive about all of the kissing that might be going on, along with having to stand around and get "shhhed" a lot. But I have given him some indication of the centerpieces at the kids table although they have not seen this picture:

As for me, I've been focused on last minute shopping and packing. It's not easy to pack for six days for three people who need a variety of casual, dressy, and formal clothing (I am the MOH, the girl is the Flower Girl, and the boy wants to "dress like the President")--in suitcases that I must be able carry by myself while keeping hold of my kids in the airport!

As for the flight itself, I have purchased an entire season of Sponge Bob on DVD, and I have a portable DVD player with two sets of earbuds. Since the kids don't have cable, and they haven't seen Sponge Bob since summer, it should work wonders on the long flight.

Time for me to get cracking! Three hours and counting before departure and our grand wedding adventure! It will be great to get there and begin the festivities for Thirty-Something Bride and the Candyman. Woo-hoo, y'all! Time for someone to get hitched.

*As for those of you who would attempt this adventure without such entertainment, you are clearly beyond the "good enough" realm of motherhood and in some other realm--a realm of which I have no understanding, a realm in which I have no ability.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vaginas, Again

At dinner:

Girl: Mom, how did I get out of you?

Me: Um, well, mommies have a little tunnel and--

Girl: Did I come out of your butt?

Me: No, girls have a tunnel between the butt and where you pee. That tunnel is where babies come out.

Girl: I'm afraid a baby is going to shoot out of my vagina!!! [with lots of hand movements towards the ceiling]

Me: Well, yes, that's where the tunnel is, but no, it doesn't quite shoot out, and you don't really have to worry about that.

Husband (interrupting): So, you guys get to go on an airplane with mommy this week!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Home Movie

The girl calls this "The Movie I Stole From My Brother":

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hell to the . . .

I find it interesting that, currently, my blog roll has a post title called "Hell to the No" and another post title called "Hell to the Yeah." One is about Faulkner. One is about shrugs.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh No She Di'nt!

Setting: The playground at my son's school, Saturday morning. The kids are playing on the slides.

Boy: Want to see me do a wiener buster? [followed by great laughter]

Me: A what?!

Boy: [Laughing, going up the slide] A wiener buster.

Boy: [He gets to the top of the slide and points out a large, bumpy ridge between two slides] That's the wiener buster.

Me: Oh, that doesn't look like a good idea.

Boy: [Nodding in serious contemplation, he goes down the regular slide]

Girl: [Goes down the slide on her belly, feet first]. I did a vagina smusher!

Me and the Boy: [Laughing]

Girl: [yelling from the top of the slide] It made a vagina sandwich! And then someone can eat my vagina!!!

End scene.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Swimming and Soccer and Dance class--Oh my!

This post is inspired by one of Ink's posts that addressed the way her weekends are different from the way they were in her single days. And what she said connected to some of the guilt I've been having lately. Of course, I have lots of sources of guilt, but let's address just one of them, shall we?

Confession: My kids are not currently enrolled in any lessons, classes, or activities.

Now. Part of this is because we were gone for a lot of the summer (as we often are), so it's hard to do much more than a short stint of swim lessons. Plus, since the boy broke his leg, soccer was a bust (and we were going to miss classes because of our trip anyway).

We have done lessons in the past. The boy (who is six) did karate for a while last year, but he stopped wanting to go because it was on the afternoon that my husband and his brother would get together so that the cousins could play. When the boy was a toddler, he did gymnastics, but he was more interested in the construction of the apparatus than actually doing the activities, so we stopped.

The girl (who is four) did dance last year, but at the end of the year, she got tired of going. She says she doesn't want to go anymore because she already knows how to dance, and at dance class she just gets bossed around a lot and doesn't really get to actually dance (despite the fact that she had a very good, fun dance teacher). In the car yesterday, I said, "But didn't you like learning routines with the other girls and doing the recitals?" Her response: "Let's just not talk about it right now."

We signed them both up for soccer in the summer, but the girl didn't want to do it because her teacher was a boy, and, as I mentioned above, our boy's leg was broken. Plus, as I also said above, we missed a lot b/c of the trip anyway.

And here are just some of the things their friends are doing: horse riding lessons, soccer, T-ball, swim lessons, dance, gymnastics, piano lessons, 4-H, French lessons, Chinese lessons, karate, summer camps, and so on.

Currently, they are both expressing some interest in gymnastics again, so we might try to get that going. But here's the thing: These kinds of activities are really disruptive to a peaceful family lifestyle. Here is a list of things that my kids like to do that are impacted significantly by lessons: afternoons with grandparents, visits to farmers market, bike riding, gardening, family dinners together, fishing, tea parties, tree climbing, baking, kayaking, time with friends, time with cousins, weekend adventures, reading, trips to the park, trips to the beach, hikes, building things, drawing, and so on. Oh, and plus the boy is starting to have some homework (just a little bit).

It's not that I don't think they should be involved in some organized activities. I do. I worry about them being left behind in music or soccer or languages or golf or whatever. I worry that, suddenly, they will be 10 and 12, and they'll be upset that it's too late to start soccer or play baseball or dance en pointe. Or that they'll feel like they missed out on something. Or that they'll only speak one language. Or that they won't get into college. Or that they'll start doing drugs because they have no structure . . .

But now that the boy is in school everyday until 2:30, I'm realizing that there just isn't that much time in the day, especially if we want to all sit down at the table together to have dinner in the evenings. Plus, they go to my mom's two afternoons a week, and the kids would hate to lose that time. Maybe it would be different if I didn't work, but I'm not sure it would matter.

I don't have any conclusions here. I just have a quandry. So I'm eager to hear your thoughts, my dear blog peeps.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Home Again!

Had a smooth (but long, SO long) trip home to my awesome family, and they took me out for sushi when I arrived.

At dinner:

Me: So, what was the best part of the week?

The Boy: All of it.

The Girl: When you came back.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

c18 Day

Went to Dr. Johnson's House today to celebrate his 300th b-day (which was actually yesterday). Apparently, a lot of other people wanted to go celebrate (or they just wanted the free admission). When I arrived, the line to get inside was very long, so I popped around the corner to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. There, I got a fish cake and some chips, along with a half pint of bitter. Thus fortified, I went to wait in line, which, fortunately, went very quickly. As for the house itself, there wasn't much furniture or "stuff" inside, but most of the house's structure is original, and it had some cool architectural features. Also, there were a few books that Johnson had actually owned and touched, which was kind of amazing. And it was cool to be in the room where Johnson wrote his Dictionary.

Afterwards, I went to the Enlightenment Room at the British Musuem. It was my first time in the BM, and I was just plain awed by the building itself. In the Enlightenment Room (the ER), I think my favorite things were pieces of Josiah Wedgewood's Jasperware.

Then, after dinner, I went on quixotic search for one particular book, walking all the way to Charing Cross where there are so many bookstores--but no luck. Now, I'm back at my hotel room with tired tootsies, stiff legs, and only about 70 pages left of my novel before I am Without. Leisure. Reading. I'm hoping to find a decent bookstore at the aiport tomorrow. Yes, airport! I am heading home to the family!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Back in London

Well, I'm back in London. I'm excited about my plans for tomorrow, but I'm bummed about my hotel room. My favorite hotel, the Euro Hotel, was booked for this weekend, so I found a room at a place about 100 yards from the Euro. But this place seems to suck. Okay, maybe "suck" is too strong a word, but I guess I've been spoiled by the Euro, which I love. At the Euro, the rooms are small but sort of charming, and I usually have a nice view over the garden. It's bright and clean, it feels safe, and a lot of families stay there. It just feels warm and welcoming, and it makes me happy.

In my current hotel, I'm below the ground floor in a long, tiny, shabby room. There is a window (thanks be to Apollo!), but it doesn't bring in a whole lot of light. As for the bed, which was already rumpled when I came in, it seems super flimsy, and the sheets are scratchy. Plus, I'm right next to the breakfast room, which is bound to be noisy and smelly. I asked if there might be a different room on an upper floor with a better window, but no dice. I think the guy just didn't want to bother.

Plus, I miss the nice, young Eastern Europeon women who run the Euro. I think having the women around makes me feel more comfortable since I'm traveling alone. Here in my dungeon room with a man at the desk, I'm not as relaxed. When I stay at the Euro, I don't mind that I share the bathrooms on the floor with others. Here, I am very glad I have a toilet and shower en suite.

Well, at least I probably won't be here much during the day tomorrow. I plan to head over to the Samuel Johnson House Museum in the morning. Today is Dr. Johnson's birthday! 300 years old! I'm missing the cake celebration at his house today, but admission is free tomorrow as the celebration continues. After that, if I have time, I'll go to the Enlightenment Room at the British Museum. Then I'll come back to my sad little hotel room.

In a few minutes, I'm going to go get some dinner. Then I'll come back to my sad little hotel room.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Attn: Buffy Fans

So, quick question: Any thoughts about the significance of Buffy's fashion choices? In other words, what shall we make of the fact that she dresses like Nancy Sinatra?

Oh, and about Angel? Sha-zizzle!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I am Here

Lovely, yes? Although I must admit that much of the campus itself is quite ordinary, most of the town is beautiful.


So, on Sunday, I sat down for dinner at a restaurant called Balfour. After I ordered my food, I opened to the first page of A Conspiracy of Paper to find a character named William Balfour. I went back to the hotel, got ready for sleep, and settled down with the first episode of Buffy, which included the actor Eric Balfour.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Take That, Jet Lag!

I managed to stay up until about 7:30pm last night, and I slept soundly until 5:30ish this morning, which should go along way towards keeping me on the right sleeping/waking schedule.

To stay awake, I visited the Dickens House Museum. It was fun to be in a place where he wrote some of his books, and it was interesting to see the original, serialized versions of some of his novels. Plus, I saw Dickens's comode chair!

After the museum, I found a decent place to get pasta, salad, and wine, and while I ate I started the David Liss novel, which I'm loving because it's just steeped in c18 London! Steeped! And, I must say, I just love my little spot over in the Bloomsbury/Russell Square area. It's becoming my own little London neighborhood when I visit!

Then today, I took the train to Wales. A long trip, but relaxing and beautiful. Perhaps I like Wales so much because it looks a lot like Central California (if Central California had more rain and more sheep).

Spoke to hubby, who was getting the kids ready for school (it was morning there, afternoon here). The boy didn't want to talk to me (he was engrossed in an episode of Survivorman, so who can blame him?), but the girl wanted to talk. How cute is a four-year old on the phone? Very cute. Her first question was, "How many days until you come home?" Then she told me about the fun they had camping. Camping is a great diversion when Mommy is gone. I can tell she misses me, but I think she'll make it. As for the boy, he's much more practical about my absence, saying, "It's just a week, Mommy. We'll have lots of fun so the time passes quickly for us."

Now I'm futzing around on the computer while watching what seems to be a British version of HGTV. Soon, it's dinner downstairs in the hotel. Then, back to my room to either

a) do academic work
b) read the David Liss novel
c) watch Buffy
d) watch How Green was My Valley
e) watch more home shows on the "More" channel

or some combination thereof. Tomorrow it's off to the library and my first meeting with the supervisor!

post-post edit://After a small dinner here at the hotel, I took a taxi down to the shore to watch the sunset over Ceredigion Bay (I've never had such good weather here!). Then I stopped by one of my favorite restaurants here to have port and a chocolate torte! Mmmmm. But I also read two articles, so I wasn't totally playing hooky from the work.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hello London-town!

Well, after a long red-eye flight and only about 40 minutes of sleep over "night", I am safely stowed in my favorite little B & B hotel near the British library. The nice woman let me check in early (before noon!), and now the trick will be to try to stay awake until at least 8:00pm. This will not be easy. It's currently 4:25a.m. California time, and it will be noon in CA by the time I'm "allowed" to go to sleep here.

This means that even though I so badly want to lay down on the nice tiny bed in my nice tiny room, I'm going to have to go out and about for a while. See the sights through my very bleary eyes. I'm thinking about looking for the Dickens House Museum. I don't think I can handle anything much bigger than that today.

The flight was smooth, and I landed safely, so I probably shouldn't bother complaining about how unfriendly the "friendly skies" were today. The head flight attendant sounded like Paula Poundstone without her wry but endearing tone. At one point, she said, "The captain has turned on the seatbelt signs for a reason. Please take your seats." Very ominous. The rest of the crew gave off a similar vibe.

Since I couldn't sleep, I blew through Lorrie Moore's new novel. It definitely had some good parts, but some sections seemed a little overdone and indulgent. Am I allowed to say that about Lorrie Moore? Maybe not. But there were puns that actually made me groan. And I don't think they were just the character's puns. You'll have to read it and let me know what you think.

But I have plenty of DVDs for another night when I'm not planning to pass out by 8:00 (if not before). I have North and South. I have How Green Was My Valley (which I had not heard of before but which is so perfect for this trip). For something completely different, I have the first two seasons of Buffy, and I have the first season of Arrested Development.

And for my reading pleasure (when I'm not reading the academic stuff), I'm on to David Liss's A Conspiracy of Paper. This way, when I'm not studying, I can pretend I'm doing contextual history stuff. I haven't read Liss before, so we'll see.*

My eyes are burning. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to make it until 8:00. Yawn.

*Really, I am going to work on the dissertation, but I just can't do it after about 8:00 or 9:00 at night when I'm in my hotel room missing my family so much. Then, I need true diversions.

P.S. The night before I left, we harvested ten green beans from the garden! My first green beans ever. I know you're probably not very impressed, but I cooked them up and they were absolutely the best green beans ever. And we have a tomato that's getting red! I instructed the boy to keep a close eye on it while I'm gone so that the bugs/slugs don't get it before we do.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Baboons Again!

Hey, it's the same show on PBS about stress that I saw last September (that I posted about)! I love how the hippie scientist guy is talking about how all of the alpha males of a baboon troup got wiped out, and he says "the remaining male baboons, to use scientific jargon, are just really good guys."

Okay, back to Eliza Haywood.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Okay. It's time to start thinking about my trip to Wales. I leave in four days, and I have done nothing to pack or get my things/confirmations in order.

I think I've kept it in the back of my mind because a) I get nervous flying and b) I'm going to miss the family terribly.

Plus, I need to finish my short writing piece for my supervisor.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ice Cream Man

No, it's not the Tom Waits song. Although I do, indeed, love that song.

Today, I was sitting in the backyard while the kids were playing in the inflatable pool (in their wetsuits so they wouldn't freeze in the coastal breeze), and all of a sudden I registered a sound--a tinkling, musical sound. I sat forward in my chair and said, "Is that? Oh my gosh . . . "

The kids stopped at looked at me, "What, Mommy, what?" said my quick-to-become-concerned son. I said, "I'll be right back." I ran to the front yard and out to the street, and I'll be damned if it wasn't an honest-to-goodness absolutely for real Ice Cream Truck.

My children have never see an ice cream truck, so I grabbed the wallet, ran to the backyard and said, "Come with me!" They were a bit alarmed, but they were game, so they followed along, barefoot, freezing in the breeze. They were pretty excited, but since they couldn't appreciate the nostalgia of the moment, I'm not sure they were as excited as I was.

I guess the truck's been coming around for a couple of months, but since we've been gone so much, we haven't seen him. He was talking about getting his business license in a nearby town and said it took two months because the official didn't know how to do it: No one had applied for an ice cream truck business license in the town for fifty years.

The boy got an ice cream sandwich. The girl got a Pink Panther ice cream pop. My husband got some kind of crunch thing, and I got shaved ice.

The kids were too cold to get back in the pool.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Can we just take a minute to appreciate how incredibly awesome and cool Patty Griffin is?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Eat Your Heart Out, Wordsworth

Today was a very warm day on the Central Coast. My town, which only occasionally makes it out of the 60-degree range, hit 80 today. After dinner, my husband proposed a kayaking adventure across the bay to the dunes. Actually, he had planned to just take the boy, but then the girl was rather alarmed at such an adventure happening without her. So, in the end, after much discussion and boat adjustments, we all four headed out.

We live just a few blocks from the bay, and we got there just before sunset. We lauched just as the sun dipped below the dunes, and as we paddled, the sky turned pink, purple, and orange--as did the water. All the while, the moon (full?) was rising behind us. We saw bat rays, otters, seals, birds, and fish.

When we got to the dunes, it was pretty dark, and the kids were giddy. It was so funny watching their little silhouettes running around with that excited little run they get. You know that run? The straight-armed one? The boy asked if his friends were probably asleep and was thrilled at the idea that he was scrambling on the dunes while they slept. We made it to the top of the dune where we could look out and see the ocean and a long stretch of coastline.

We headed back down to the bay's edge so that the boy could fish for a bit while the hubby had a beer and the girl had a juice box. Then the girl did lots of log rolls down the dune hills.

On the way back across the bay, the moon was directly ahead of us, and the water was just about as glassy as it could be. And it was still close to 70 degrees. We made it back to the shore and the car just before the kids (read: the girl) got too tired and too uncomfortable. After a bath and a bit of The Secret Garden, they were out.

All in all, just incredible. (And although I didn't take this picture, it is a photo of the place where we kayaked tonight.)


I got some Spanx for my matron of honor dress (I'm standing up for my Cousin, The Thirty-Something Bride, in October). This is my first foray into the Spanx arena, and I think they might be too small. But how is one to tell?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Will Travel--Need DVDs

So, I leave in less than two weeks for the next UK trip. Last time, I purchased some cheap DVDs to take with me and watch on my laptop. Did I mention the movies were cheap? I don't think I can handle another Jessica Simpson movie, so I think I'll go a different route this time.

I just this moment started thinking I might fork over the cash for a couple of seasons of a TV series. Since I don't have cable, there are many things I haven't seen. One possibility: Buffy.

Other suggestions? I like funny. I like clever. A bonus would be if it's something that I might like but that my husband might not. Then I'm not cheating on him, TV-wise. Here is a short list of TV shows I like that might help you advise me (these are also about the only good TV shows I've seen, either on one of my three channels or through Netflix).

West Wing (first two seasons)
Burn Notice
Entourage (how can it be both offensive and endearing?)
Law and Order: Criminal Intent

You should keep in mind that I'll be by myself, stuck in airports, up with insomnia, missing my family, and feeling as if I should be studying*, so it needs to be something extremely diverting.

*All of the other parts of the trip will be great.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Brits v. Yanks: Shuttle Edition

Okay, so BBC World News just came on our local PBS station, and it started with footage of the space shuttle launch. My husband has his degree in aero engineering, so, of course, we thought the footage was very cool. But then, a reporter started voicing over the footage with an interview with an American professor (I don't remember his affiliation), and the professor proceeded to talk about how the shuttle and the space station are a waste of money, and they haven't taught us anything, blah, blah, blah.

Now, I know that a lot of people feel this way, but come on. When we're watching the launch? Really, that's the person you interview? It reminded me of a fellow American friend who was in the UK (Sheffield, I believe) for the Challenger disaster. He was watching the launch in a bar, and he said that when the Challenger exploded, the Brits in the bar laughed. He was very pissed off.

Anyway, do the Brits have a "thing" about the space shuttle? Anybody know?

Also, I have told my husband that the BBC World News that we get here on PBS each evening at 5:00pm seems very different from the BBC News that I see when I'm in the UK. The version I see in the UK seems much more tabloid-ish and kind of cheesy. The one we see here in the evenings has different hosts and seems to focus on international politics. It's sophisticated and informative. However, I think tonight's late-night version is the kind I usually see in the UK. The lead stories? The shuttle (properly disparaged), the girl found in the rapist's backyard in California, and Michael Jackson's death. Of course much of our news led with the same stories, I'm sure (esp. CNN, MSNBC, etc.), but I just think it's interesting that there seems to be more that one "BBC World News." Am I wrong about this?

P.S. I made banana pudding pie yesterday. The husband loves it. The kids only want the nilla wafers.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup

Okay. I just finished story time with the kids, and for the second night in a row, we read The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup. It's not a new book, and we've read it plenty of times before. But it's been a while. And you know what? Tonight, the book just about made me cry. The writing is sharp. The illustrations are both beautiful and charming. And the characterization is just fantastic. I love this book.

Have you read it?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Homemade--Cool or Lame?

So, the other night, I wore my new poncho. I wore it out to get some dinner (while I finished reading my book group book) and then I wore it to book group. When I sat down at the restaurant, my server came right over and said, "Oh, did you make that?" When I said, "yes," she told me that she could tell right away that I had made it--that she can always spot handmade things. She gushed over it and said that is was elegant. I was very proud.

But it got me thinking. I can remember when homemade was definitely not as good as store bought. That homemade meant "lame." When I put my poncho on, I imagined (read: fantasized about) people coming up to me and saying, "Oh, I love your poncho, where did you get it?" And then I'd say that I made it and they would say, "You made that? No way!" But I hadn't really envisioned the compliments starting with, "Did you make that? I can totally tell that you made it."

Now, these days, I think homemade--or "hand made"--stuff is really cool, but is that because there is a revolution afoot and everyone thinks hand made things are cool? Or is it just because I'm getting old and matronly and nostalgic for the "olden" days when I was five and my mom made dresses for me that I just loved? Or is it just because I've been reading too much Little House on the Prairie to the kids?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bug Patrol

As someone who has a garden (albeit a tiny, fledgling one), I feel very lucky that I have a son who loves bugs and tiny creatures to such a great degree that one of his favorite activities is looking for caterpillars and inchworms on my bok choy, peas, etc. In fact, he and his friend have talked of starting a business called Organic Bug Patrol. People will hire them and pay them to look for (and remove) pests in gardens. The conflict comes when the boy's friend wants to keep the bugs to feed to her chickens, whereas the boy wants to put them in a jar to watch them pupate.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


So yesterday we took the boy to get his cast cut off. When the doctor put the cast on, he said that when he took it off, he'd want to send the boy for follow up x-rays, seeing as how the boy ran around on a broken let for at least four months, a fact which suggests that the absence of pain wouldn't be much of an indicator for us.

But when the doctor took the cast off, he just said, "Okay, see ya, you're good to go!" That kind of thing. I asked about getting a follow up x-ray and he said, "Naaa." It all happened so fast, that we just kind of nodded and collected our things and said thanks and left.

But then later we realized that we really didn't feel at all sure that the leg was healed (seeing as how we never knew it was broken and seeing as how the boy didn't give the leg much rest during our month-long Colorado adventure). So, today, I am proud to say, I called the office and told the assistant what the doctor had said when he put the cast on and that we'd really feel better with some follow up. She ordered the x-rays, and we'll go to the hospital tomorrow to get them done. Which is especially good since, yesterday, the boy started to run across the yard and then collapsed in pain. It seems that perhaps his achilles seized up on him after spending five weeks in a cast doing nothing but chillaxing.

You may be thinking, "Okay, but why is she 'proud' of herself?" Well, I'm proud because I'm a people pleaser who accepts figures of authority. And, in this case, I focused on the well being of my child, authority be damned! Yay, me.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Jiggity Jig

I did not buy a pig, but I am home again. Which is nice. Mostly. Being on the road for a month makes coming home feel good, but a little bit boring and slightly overwhelming because of all of the stuff in the house. But I do look forward to stocking the house with groceries, and I'm hoping my husband will replace all of the burned out lightbulbs.

The garden is lush. I missed the bok choy, but I can feed a few of the remaining leaves to the lizard (who is extremely fat, by the way. She is definitely going on a diet). On the other hand, the lettuce is just coming up, and the peas and beans haven't fruited yet. The tomato plants are raging. I even have little rogue volunteer tomato plants coming up in strange places, which is especially strange since I didn't use seeds. But while the plants are huge, I'm not sure we'll have enough heat to really get ripe tomatoes.

Okay, soon I will post pictures of the bazillion knitting projects I completed on the road, and soon I'll be catching up with the posts of my blog peeps. I'm way behind . . .

I'm way behind with many things, to tell the truth.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fish for Dinner

I felt very DIY a few days ago, back in South Fork*, when we went fishing and I caught two Rainbow Trout, and I cooked them up for dinner. How self-reliant am I?! Oh, and my husband cleaned them, so it was definitely a family effort. Perhaps I should focus on family-reliance rather than self-reliance.

Also, I finished knitting the girl's bunny, and yesterday in the car, driving from Salt Lake to Reno, I finished a poncho! It's beautiful, even if I do say so myself. (Pictures to follow.) I don't know why I can knit in the car even though I can't read in the car, but it has been a great way to pass the time on the road. And I'm getting better! Anybody need a scarf?

So we've been on the road trip for three weeks now, and we've got one more stop to see cousins north of San Fran. We were sad to leave Colorado because we had such a fantastic time, and we just love it there. And we took the kids on their first family float trip! Since my husband used to be a hard core river kayaker, his friends are all river expert with tons of gear, so we didn't have to go with a guide company (his friends are guides and safety runners). Instead, we got together with another family and some friends, and had a fantastic float, picnic, paddle, etc. Now that's living.

On top of it all, we have decided where we'd like to be able to buy a small piece of land on which we can place a yurt. Time to start saving the cash! Ha.

But today we are chillaxing** outside of Reno, visiting the hotel pool, and maybe finding another activity or maybe just watching a movie. Tomorrow it's on to see more family. Then home! Can't wait to get home to see how the garden is doing, see friends, catch up with my blog peeps, and get to work on the dissertation. Dissertation? Dissertation? What dissertation? Oh, that dissertation. The one on which I need to work before I make my next trip to Wales in mid-September. And then there's the sabbatical project to work on . . .

*Funny story: While we were in South Fork, we came across National Lampoon's Vacation while we were surfing the cable channels. We settled on it for a while, and what do you know? The Griswolds visit South Fork! They stay at Kamp Komfort, which is still there and which, in the movie, is noted for it's stinky tents and festering pool. This was even funnier to me considering my post of July 21. Speaking of cable, we don't have it at home, so we've done some binging. Anybody else just love House Hunters International?

**Thanks to the TSB for the new vocab word.

Friday, July 31, 2009

God and Knitting

Back to Basics update:

Here on the road, I've finished the caterpillar I knitted for my son. For the eyes, I even got to use old button saved by my hubby's great grandmother. The boy loves it, and it's so satisfying to see him loving something that I made. Also, I'm using the left over yarn to make a knitted bunny for the girl. Pictures to follow.

Theology update from this morning at breakfast:

The Girl (out of nowhere): "I think God is the Pink Panther."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lovin' Lovett

Lyle Lovett at Red Rocks! With his Large Band! WOOT!

What. A. Show.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Good Enough Griswold

Time to get into the family truckster and head to the Rocky Mountains. I will check in from time to time but frequently will be offline. Praise be.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Brits v. Yanks, Part I

Okay, so I found a little romantic comedy on Netflix instant play called I'll Be There. It was set in Wales, which is perfect since I'm becoming a regular visitor there.

But it got me thinking.

Why do British people, as a rule, carry so much disdain for Americans? I mean, I suppose I could ask the same question about Europeans in general, but I was thinking about the Brit v. Yank question since many Americans really like Britain and the Brits. Or perhaps it's just that we think they seem distinguished and smart because of the accents. In return, the Brits seem to think we are losers who talk through our noses. Perhaps we do talk through our noses, but why are we perceived to be losers?*

I mean, really, what's up?

*And I won't even go into the whole who-won-the-war issue.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

High and Dry

Kids are in bed (have been for a while). Hubby is out with the guys. Alas, I have no chick flick.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Who Needs Mommy

So, most of the day today, my daughter was very "mommyish." She wanted Mommy for everything-- she didn't want Mommy to take a shower, she wanted to cuddle with Mommy, she wanted Mommy to play Barbies and read stories. Finally, I untangled myself from her so I could run errands while my husband took both kids over to their cousin's house (the cousin is just a few months younger than my daughter, who is four).

So, about an hour ago (~7:00p.m.), my husband calls me from his brother's house and says, "The girl wants to ask you something."

Girl (speaking very clearly and sounding about 11 or 12): Hello, Mommy.

Me: Hello, Sweetie.

Girl: Mommy, Can we have a sleepover?

Me (after a pause): You want to sleep over there?

Girl: Yes.

Me: Did you ask Daddy?

Girl: He said it was okay.

Me: Are you and the boy going to sleep there without Daddy?

Girl: Just for a few days.

I can hear my husband start to laugh in the background since I doubt he (or his brother) had agreed to the "few days" part. So much for being Mommyish.

The Details, in Brief

So we think the boy broke his leg/ankle when he was jumping on hotel beds in Berkeley. Yes, we allow our kids to go crazy on hotel beds. I think I was in a meeting when it happened (edit/they weren't alone in the hotel room; their father was present), and everyone's a little fuzzy on the details anyway. But there seems to be a vague memory of the boy saying, "Owww!" after one of the jumps. There was a little swelling later, but it went down quickly, so we thought he just twisted it a little. The swelling (which was just a tiny circle of fluid on the little bone that sticks out from the ankle) came back about a month or two later. Then went away. Then came back. Then went away. Then came back and stuck around. Then, we went to the doctor. She said it was a cyst and sent us to get x-rays to determine whether or not it watch attached to any ligaments or anything.

Not a cyst!

The biggest moment was when the boy found out that he needed a cast and that he wasn't going to be able to swim*. He was crying in the doctor's office. The girl was watching him so somberly, clearly tuned into his grief. Then he said, "I don't want [the girl] to swim if I can't because I don't want to have to watch her" (he was referencing our upcoming hotel stays, which usually include swimming as well as bed jumping). The girl, who loves to swim, without pause and with a very serious and earnest face said quickly, "I don't like swimming."

It was so sweet.

*We have since learned that there are water sock things kids can wear that will allow them to swim with a cast.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Broken, Broken, Broken

Apparently, my son's ankle is broken. Apparently, it's been broken since the end of February when we went on a trip to Berkeley. Apparently, I am a terrible mother.

Details to follow soon.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fiskers and Ginghers and Rippers, Oh My!

So I went through a box marked "sewing" and a canvas bag that had some unfinished knitting projects (from about 15 years ago) in it*. I wanted to take stock of the sewing gear I already have on hand. I found my nice Ginghers scissors that are still in their nice little box*. I found a good pair of Fiskars. I found at least one seam ripper, quite a few needles, several colors of thread, two fabric cutters, one little plastic measuring grid thing, some white two-sided craft tape stuff, a crochet needle, a yarn needle, a needle threader, some supplementary "feet" for the sewing machine (that I don't know how to use), and a bunch of erasers.

I am proud of myself for currently knowing the location of all of this gear. Now I just need to re-learn how to thread the machine. I have the User's Guide, so I should be good.

Also, I thought I might mention that I have recently started to feel a little silly about this getting-back-to-basics blog topic since I'm realizing that so many people I know already do all of this stuff that I'm trying to work on. My garden is fledging and smaller than all of my friends' gardens. My canning mentor has already put up dozens of jars of preserved fruit. The more I talk about this stuff, the more I feel like everyone is thinking, "Oh, you are way behind. Everyone has chickens now, and we've all been making our own mayonnaise and our own clothes for years. Plus, we've all purged our clutter and none of us have plastic toys in the house."

But the thing is that, for me, my focus on home and hearth is quite new. So I suppose I'm blogging the journey of a bookish, disorganized, take-out ordering, working mom who hopes to create a home that is a lot less cluttered while also learning some skills that make me feel a bit more like Caroline Ingalls. Just a bit.

*In the bag, there was a finished back to an unfinished sweater that I worked on during the summer of 1994. Yesterday, I gave it to my daughter as an afghan for her dolls. It was strangely satisfying to see it being used in that way.

*Scissors--singular or plural?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Baby Steps

The sewing machine is still on the floor by the front door. This goes to show you that I haven't made much progress on the sewing front and that I still have many gaps on the organization front. Currently, since there is a bunch of random stuff on the desk in the office/playroom, I have no good place for the machine. I have to figure that one out.

But I did make banana bread today from my old bananas instead of letting them turn totally black and go to waste. To many of you, this may sound like nothing. For me, it is a source of pride and satisfaction.

I also plan to make some homemade mayonnaise from a recipe I found in an awesome UK mag that I found at Barnes and Nobles called Country Homes and Interiors. It seems as if British country style is quite different from good old American country style. Can we say "homes from the c18 overlooking the ocean"?

Does anyone crochet? I can just barely knit (but I enjoy it), but I'd like to be able to crochet a hat for my daughter. She tried on a crocheted hat the other day, and it was so cute.

I'll let you know how the mayonnaise turns out.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sewing Machine

The sewing machine has left the garage! It's sitting in it's Styrofoam packaging near the front door in our living room (had to take it out of the box b/c the box seemed to have mouse poop on it).

Next step, review the user guide.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Meme from The Thirty-Something Bride

What is your current obsession?

Dreams of Homesteading.
Cooking new things in the kitchen.

Coffee or tea?

Tea (black or earl grey--with cream and sugar)

What’s for dinner?

Apps at the place where I got married (seared ahi and fried calamari)--kids were at a b-day party!

What would you eat for your last meal?

boiled peanuts with beer, sweet potato chips, yellow tail sashimi with lots of ginger, homemade mac and cheese, port and chocolate

What was the last thing you bought?

Fairy garden. Flowered watering can. Candle.

What are you listening to right now?

My husband's sleepy breathing.

What’s the best gift you have ever been given?

Hmmm. Pearl earrings. Bracelet with my grandmother's picture (from TSB!). Down payment money for condo (and other such financial gifts from parents).

What is your favourite ice cream flavour?

Old-fashioned homemade vanilla.

What do you think of the person who tagged you?

Love her so much. Think she's amazing and stunning. She's family.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?

Just an hour? If I could beam myself somewhere, maybe Italy. Maybe Sri Lanka. If I can't beam myself, I'll just take some time at the bookstore.

Which language do you want to learn?


What’s your favourite quote (for now)?

Shame you fall down no one push you. (Amy Tan)

What is your favourite colour?

I gravitate towards green and browns.

What is your favourite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?

My cotton knit J.Jills skirts are the most comfortable. My brown leather boots are the coolest.

What is your dream job?

Writer of books (that people buy).

What is your worst habit?

Spending more money than I should. Oh, and flaking on thank you notes.

If you had £100 now, what would you spend it on?

A composter. Or maybe something from the Sundance catalog.

Do you admire any one’s style?

Yes, I admire the style of people who are fit.

Describe your personal style?

It used to be kind of hippyish. Now it's really just frumpyish. Gotta work on that.

What are you going to do after this?

Get in bed and read a few pages of The Master and Margarita for my book group.

What are your favourite movies?

Grease, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Cool Hand Luke, Bridget Jones's Diary, When Harry Met Sally, Apocalypse Now (any many more . . . )

What is your favourite fruit?

Blackberries picked while hot from the sun. Good cherries. Good strawberries. Rhubarb (not a fruit?)

What inspires you?

My children. My mom. My husband. My friends. Good literature. Music.

Your favourite book?

I just don't know. Jane Eyre is way up there . . . but I have some more recent favs, too.

Do you collect something?

Not really.

What is your favourite smell?

Gardenias. And my kids just after they wake up.

What are you most proud of?

My kids. Some of my professional work.

How many times do you press the snooze button before you get up?

My alarms do not have snooze buttons. They just call, "Mooooommmmyyyyy, Come iiiinnn heeeerrreeeee . . ." until I arrive.

Cats or dogs?

I have a dog. Used to have a cat. Used to be a TOTAL cat person but am now a bit doggish.

What’s your biggest fashion mistake?

You mean from today? Probably everything.

What do you look forward to coming home to after you’ve been away?

Kiddie-poos who say, "Mommy!" and come running. Or a quiet house is good, too!

Complete the following:

Love is…

higher than a mountain; love is thicker than water . . . (Sing it!)

Which phrase do you feel embodies your spirit?

See quote from above.

TAG! (If you want . . . )