Friday, May 29, 2009

Who Needs Some Pudding?

Monica came to visit last weekend. If you recall, I had some angst about the state of my house going in. I had succeeded in taking the day off on Friday (except there was a work-related project MAB begged me to do and I had to take The Child to the doctor for some lab work (routine, nothing scary) so I didn't even get home until 11:30 in the morning. So much for a "day" off. But I started to make some headway in the house and even in the gardens, which was more than I'd expected. Likewise, I did more of the same on Saturday. But come Sunday, the day of Monica's arrival, I still wasn't satisfied. (Yes, it really was that bad). Plus, she has allergies and we have pets and she knew about the pets but I wanted to make sure that whatever allergens I could control were thusly dealt with just so she wouldn't swell and die because I happen to think that having a guest swell and die on you is extremely bad form for a hostess.

Come Sunday I was also weary of my house. And Monica wasn't coming in until 9pm so I thought I'd take some time with my game. You know, just relax for crying out loud. And I believe I mentioned that the game is addicting. Addicting in the "where did the time go?" sort of way. But I still wasn't worried because, as I said, Monica was arriving at 9pm. Then my cell rang and it was her and she was in the cab and on her way because she'd caught an earlier train.

Said The Spouse, "And cue the freakout in five, four, three"... But I didn't really freakout. Much. Some final tweaks and it was going to have to do because there was the taxi and inside it was Monica. Who is more adorable than I expected.

We had wine and ate a delicious grilled chicken dinner that The Spouse put together then played "Guitar Hero". Good times.

As anyone who has visited us from elsewhere will tell you, we're not tremendous tour guides. Mon had never been here before so I knew I had to give her the nickel tour but I'm not a 2-hours-at-EMP-then-up-to-the-top-of-the-Space-Needle-followed-by-the-Underground-Tour-and-a-visit-to-the-zoo sorta tour guide. It's more along the lines of "there's our movie theater, there's my church, this is a nice neighborhood" sort of thing. But I did give her a little taste of Seattle. We went to the Market, had breakfast at Lowell's and talked about New York.

We cruised the stalls and found little tiny avocados and beautiful flowers.

I showed her the original Starbucks and then it was up to Queen Anne for the money shot of Seattle.

Monica was easily pleased, thought Seattle was beautiful and made me laugh. She is also prone to apropos-of-nothing comments like, "Could you go for a milkshake right about now?" The place with the best milkshakes was closed for the holiday but that was ok because, really, she needed to be able to say she'd been to Dick's Drive-in anyway.

We drove around some more; I pointed out some sights, Monica mused about moving to Seattle because it was so beautiful and felt like a place when real people lived (rather than Portland, which feels to her like a place where people go to "hang") then we took the lake drive back to the house. It was a beautiful day and the water was all sparkly and stuff.

The afternoon was spent playing a wicked fun card game called "Phase 10" with The Child, during which Monica and I endeavored to teach The Child essential life lessons that she simply must have to function in the world. (Like, learn to hold 10 cards in your hand at the same time). Then there was another random Monica moment involving pudding so while she and The Child walked to the co-op for said treat I made dessert (fresh nectarine tart with pastry cream on puff pastry). The Neighbor joined us for dinner and then Monica gamely joined The Child and I for the season premiere of "Jon and Kate Plus 8" (don't get me started).

And that was pretty much it. Low key, fun, comfortable.

Tuesday morning I drove Monica to the train station, gave her a hug and told her to come back any damn time.

Until Sunday Monica and I hadn't even spoken by phone. It was as virtual a relationship as they come. But, once again, making her real was just as easy a thing as it could be. I'm firmly convinced that it is impossible to put on too much if you are a blogger. You might have a schtick, you might create an on-line presence that focuses only on what you want to share. But if you read someone for any length of time you still get a pretty good sense of the kind of person they truly are. And sure enough, Monica is a smart, sassy, funny, kind and easy going person. It was a delight to hang with her and I can't wait until she comes up again.

For today's Jukebox, I'm playing a tune from a band Monica turned me on to while she was here. They are a band who, as she puts it, "wear their influences on their sleeve". One minute you're all, "this is mid-career Beatles" and then its "hey, this sounds like The Band". But they manage to put it all together in a way that is uniquely their own. Good stuff.

Dr. Dog "Hang On"

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Haven't Gone Dark

I've just been trying really hard not to get sick. With only minimal success.

Tomorrow? The joys of Monica.


Friday, May 22, 2009

And the Band Played On

Is is just me or should someone stage an intervention for Dick Cheney? Someone really needs to let him know that he is not in power any more and that by continually shooting off his mouth, as he did again yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute, he does nothing to substantively challenge the Obama administration or to rectify the legacy of the Bush administration. For 8 years he alternately sat in an undisclosed location or behind the throne, wielding an ungodly influence that succeeded only in making America less secure, less prosperous and less moral. That history will judge him harshly is all but guaranteed. By continually going up against the current administration in the loose cannon fashion he's employed does nothing to change that.

It also displays, I think, a complete lack of class. Disagreeing with the powers that be is the right of every citizen, even those who once served in government. But as a former administration official I think he has an obligation to be less public about his rhetoric. It is not really a done thing for former Presidents and Vice Presidents to be quite so impolitic. Geez, have you heard even one word from W since he flew out of Washington? Former presidents and vice presidents give lectures, write books. They do, occasionally, give an interview. What they do not do is book public, televised speech after speech after speech with the sole intent of undermining the sitting president. It is not done and the more Cheney engages this behavior the more he looks exactly like the angry, bitter, slightly crazed man that the left always took him to be.

I don't think he's doing any favors for the Republican party, either. Sure, there are still plenty of neo-cons in the ranks and they are all having a terribly, terribly hard time accepting the new reality. They still can't believe they lost and they still don't understand any of the reasons WHY they lost. But the empire-building, unregulated free-market, keeping women-children-minorities-etc. in their place social agenda of the neo-cons has proved to be a failure, utterly rejected by the American people. The ship of state, you see, never manages to list too far right or left, not for long anyway. And now she is righting herself and at the helm is a centrist. Neo-cons simply don't understand that Obama isn't some far left socialist crazy. (Neither do the left understand that he is not the the answer to all their prayers, but that's a discussion for another day). What we have now is a pragmatic, intelligent leader who is going to weigh evidence, consider nuance and balance opinion. No wonder the neo-cons don't get it.

But back to the Republican party: if they are going to save themselves they are going to have to reframe their agenda and take into account the realities of the world. Yes, the citizenry by and large prefers a more conservative approach to fiscal matters...which is possibly the only strength to which the GOP can currently play. (As soon as people forget that the current economic crises was fueled on their watched and by their unfettered greed and anti-regulation free-market notions). But the citizens also want peace in the world, government to stay the H out of their bedrooms and justice for all. They don't want to be called unpatriotic because they disagree with their leaders, they don't want to live in constant fear and they don't want to be told that giving peace (and negotiations and new ideas) a chance is dangerous. They don't, I'm quite sure, want to hear much of anything from Mr. Dick Haliburton Cheney. And I'm pretty sure the GOP would, on balance, prefer another face and voice to represent them in this time of party turmoil.


Many of us waited for 8 years to be shod of the Bushies. Frankly, I think we all deserve a respite from those harrowing years. This might be a good time for Cheney to go back into one of his bunkers for a while.

Here's a little something from one of my favorite Republicans. (I seriously want David Brooks to come to dinner sometime).

And here's a little blast from the past:

The Temptations "Ball of Confusion"

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Thursday, May 21, 2009


I think I need to take tomorrow off.

"But wait," you say. "I'm paying taxes so you can have Monday off. Isn't a three day weekend good enough for you, you gold-bricking government hack?"

Normally, it would be. But the weekend isn't going to be a leisurely lie-around-and-do-nothing-except-grill-in-the-"summer" sort of three day weekend.

Saturday I'm going to some wine making thing with The Neighbor.
Sunday is Pentecost and we have the traditional spooning of the split pea soup made from the Easter ham bone, complete with guests and possibly karaoke.
PLUS, around 9pm on Sunday a cab will deliver Monica(!) from the train station.
Monday will be devoted to hanging with Mon and grilling up something for dinner.

There's no time for grocery shopping or making soup and cake and sanitizing a perch for Monica in that schedule. Never mind that my gardens are completely overgrown, winter junk is piled up everywhere and you can't see through the windows when the sun shines. Nope. I just don't see a way clear to managing without some extra time.

"You could not play ""Fallout 3" when you get home," says you.

"Are you mad?" exclaims me.

MAB kinda owes me. She's left me holding the bag quite a lot lately. First she was in SF for a week and yesterday she had the nerve to stay home sick. I think a day off is more than reasonable.

Hope I'm not the only one who thinks so.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Make a Note

Sometimes, instead of "working", you just have to sing songs, make jokes, talk about your life, eat sandwiches and play games on the boss' iPhone. It's how you get your mojo back so you can do what you have to do.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The weekend weather here was perfect and spring-like. The scent of flowers was thick on the air and it made one believe that things like vine-ripened tomatoes and al fresco dining were right around the corner. Then my friend Todd washed his car.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh Promise Me

On Saturday my neice, Jane Austen, got married. Jane was always a princess and on Saturday all I could think about was the little girl who used to love to play dress up. How do they grow up so fast?

The weather was, after 6 months of unmitigated bleak, pefect. The wedding was held outside and it just couldn't have been more beautiful.

It was also very emotional and not just because everyone was so happy for Jane and Mr. Darcy. It was also the first big family do since the death of Mr. Stewart and his absence was palpable; particularly because his youngest daughter, Keira Knightly, is in love and destined for her own wedding in a couple of years and she was clearly thinking that her daddy isn't going to be there to walk her down the aisle. My sister, Martha Stewart, is the bravest woman I know but she too had moments where she just had to remove herself from the festivities. It was very difficult, bless their hearts.

Of all the neicelet weddings so far this was the best, if only because I actually know the groom. We've spent time together and talked and have a relationship. He's delightful and they make a terrible handsome couple.

My sister, Audrey Hepburn, mother of the bride. (She looked way hot).

The Spouse did the video for the wedding. He looked handsome.

My nephew:

Martha Stewart, Moi & Audrey:

The Child, Martha, my neice little Martha and her son, my grand-nephew, Joshua:

The first dance:

Audrey and Mr. Hepburn kept dancing:

Nana and Jane:

Girl cousins:

Moi & Martha

And they all lived happily ever after:

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Forget La Bamba

The Child had begged me to watch "Selena", the bio-pic of the late tejena singer, played by Jennifer Lopez. At this time of her life it is even more important that I try to be available to these sorts of requests for the simple reason that spending time with dear ol' mum is not exactly high on her list of Fun Things. And The Spouse has been in bed the last two days with the latest mutation of his not-swine flu so it seemed like a good chick thing to do.

Must say, I was thoroughly entertained. I officially take back nearly everything I've ever said about Jennifer Lopez. Added bonus: Edward James Almos plays her father. Loves me some Eddie.

Selena was a breakthrough artist, the first woman to ever go gold singing tejena. At the time of her death she was finishing up a cross-over album (in English) that would no doubt have sent her into the stratosphere with a whole new audience. Girl had some pipes. There were some very pretty ballad-y songs on her last album (no really great videos, though, for obvious reasons) but I like to think that wouldn't have been the niche she'd have sought. Especially working with her rocker husband, Chris Perez, I'd like to think that she would have ended up headed more toward rock than pop. Sadly, we'll never know.

Selena "Amor Prohibido"


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Just for You, Honey

This morning The Spouse woke me up and said, "Time to get up, honey. You need to go blog about your game".

Why he thinks the rest of you would give a mole rat about my game is beyond me but he so rarely asks me to blog about anything specific that I feel I must. So here's the thing: I'm addicted to a new game.

My gaming experience is limited. I'm pretty much either an arcade game sorta gal (Tetris, Bubbleshooter, that) or I'm into things like "Sims", which for me is just about decorating houses I've built, hooking people up so I can throw them weddings and getting them to have babies while achieving enough cooking points that they can dine on Lobster Thermidor every night if they want. And I haven't even done that in months and months because my laptop doesn't really support the game.

When we got an Xbox at Christmas I regarded it as a present for The Spouse and generally that was true. Then he taught me how to play "Left 4 Dead", a game where you slay zombies. That was satisfying. But the game only has 4 maps and after a while it was pretty much the same game every time. Then he showed me how to play "Fallout 3".

O my yord.

It's all over now.

"Fallout 3" takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. It's a first person shooter game; you create a character and escape "The Vault" only to find a bleak landscape through which you must travel to find safe havens. On the way you accept various quests, which lead you out to discover more of a huge map. There are good guys and bad guys. Your choices influence your karma. Your karma begins to dictate your experience (certain bad guys start to chase you, other characters befriend you (or not) because of your goodness (or badness, I suppose, but I'm going for the good karma). On your travels you pick up weapons and schtuff (that you can use yourself or sell for bottle caps - the coin of the realm, as it were). If you disarm a bomb in one town they reward you with a house which you can then decorate with certain themes (mine is pre-war...very retro). You collect bobbleheads. It is, in short, just about as dense a game as anything I've ever played. There's no set path you have to travel so each gamer's experience is going to be a little different from everyone else's.

It is thoroughly addicting. Hours pass before you realize it. Saturday morning I thought I'd play for an hour before going out to run my errands. 5 hours and still in my jammies later I had to force myself to stop, only to get back on the box as soon as I got home. Conservatively I'd say I've spent 24 hours playing this game and I'm only on level 7. I don't even know how many levels there are.

I have a couple of big challenges (besides just turning off the demmed console). One is that I'm not a very good shot and some creatures are really hard to take down. I prefer to go out into the Wasteland with a flame thrower...that seems to take care of everything from mad Brahmin cows to Mirelurks but I never have enough fuel to just flame through the world. The other challenge is that every structure, cave or tunnel I find is a freaking warren and I get veryvery lost (even though I have a Pipboy which, among myriad other things, contains maps). Inevitably I have to ask The Spouse to come guide me and then am blown away by his memory..."turn left, schooch around that ruined train car, hop up there, turn right"....his memory of that game map is encyclopedic, let me tell you.

Anymutant, it's just about much fun as a person can have with her clothes on and despite the fact that I sometimes have a fleeting thought along the lines of "Geez, if you have this much spare time maybe you could finally crack open that copy of War and Peace and do something useful with yourself" I expect I'll keep playing until I have discovered the whole map, finished every quest and earned a million bottle caps. I also want to collect all the bobbleheads. They're cute.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Stop It, Already

Things were a little oogie yesterday morning. We currently have a guest who is, shall we say, toxic? Bit of a complainer. Which is rare for us. Generally people are so lovely and grateful that it is very surprising when we have someone who is forever finding things wrong.

"Well, she is under stress," you say and I will reply, "As is every other person in that house as well as every person who has ever been in that house and no one, I repeat, No. One. has been a bigger pain in the arse".

"What about that one woman with the..."

"Oh, for sure," I quickly and rudely interrupt. "She was a piece of work but this one makes her look like Pollyanna".

The fact is, we are simply not accustom to complaints and so when we get them they stand out like a zit on the nose of a debutant. But the woman in question is, as I said, toxic; the sort whose bad energy affects everyone around her. (And she's with her husband, who isn't any better). Their constant stream of complaint has started to take a toll on everyone. In fact, when next she complains to me I have decided that I'm going to put my arm around her and very lovingly say, "You know, I've grown very concerned about you. You seem very unhappy here and that's troubling because this is supposed to be a place of comfort and peace in a difficult time and that doesn't seem to be the case for you. It is very important that you and your husband be in an environment that suits your needs so that he can get well and you can best help him in that effort. Would you like me to give you a list of nearby hotels?"

That might shut her up.

But yesterday I hit on another strategy. I donned MAB's hard hat from the ground breaking and wore it out to the kitchen. Mrs. Bitcherson was there, with some of the other people who have (I think largely owing to her bad influence) been finding fault. I said nothing, just walked in to get coffee. There were giggles and one woman starting singing "YMCA". (I joined her, complete with hand motions). Then someone else asked why I was wearing a hard hat.

I smiled sweetly and said, "So the complaints don't hurt my head anymore". You could have heard the proverbial pin drop. I smiled sweetly, again, and returned to the office.

And the remainder of the day was very pleasant.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Just Wonderin' Some More

Did you ever wake up in the morning and you needed some aspirin because it suddenly appears that your neck no longer supports your head when you sleep so all night long you keep waking up to scrunch your pillows to get just the right ratio under your neck versus what is under your head so it doesn't feel like your neck is going to snap and then you think maybe those wooden pillow things that geishas use might be the ticket except you know it would never work because you don't really enjoy sleeping on your back that much although when you did last night it sorta solved the whole head-snapping-off-the-neck problem so then you think that even such a small thing like sleep positions are not immutable and that you're just evolving yet again?


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Something I Was Wondering Recently

All y'all are awesome. Thanks to you I have plenty of essay topics collected for future blog fodder. I thank you. Sincerely.

But meanwhile, here's something I don't get...("Calculus?" he asked). That too...but really what I don't get is this:

Weather men and women (who prefer to be called 'meteorologists*' but I simply refuse to play) pretty much guess at the weather. Sure, they've got their Dopplar radar and cloud cams and whatever else they use but even after basing their predictions on all their techy toys, they know, as well as we do, that their "50% chance of rain" (besides being the biggest hedge ever. Hello? Even odds? Cue the two old farmer dudes rocking on the front porch: 'Yep, could rain today'....'Uh, yep, or not')is nothing more than an educated guess. Winds change direction, air warms or cools, somewhere a butterfly flaps its wing and the whole weather story changes.

So how is it that when they issue a severe storm warning for high winds from 12-4 am damned if the wind doesn't start blowing right at midnight? Every time?

*I used to think (up until 5 minutes ago)that weather people were silly to have a fancy pants name that had nothing to do with weather and everything to do with meteors. Always seemed kinda ingenuous to me. But then I looked up the Latin root: meμετέωρος, metéōros, which means "high in the sky" and I think that is just adorable so maybe I'm over that little bit of it.


Monday, May 04, 2009


I would like to try and experiment. You need to help.

I was just reading through a journal I forgot about. One summer The Child and I did a little thing where each day we'd pick a topic and write a little essay. It was a good exercise, for me at least. There is something excellent about having to come up with a few paragraphs on a set topic; stretched the old noodle and all that. Then it occurred to me that it might be fun if you gave me some essay themes. (Oh, man, remember that? Having to write "themes" in grade school?) I'm not looking for big, lofty things like "Sean Hannity is a disgrace to all thinking people" or "Was Elizabeth I really a man?" I'm going for your one or two word idea, here. Things like "pie" or "bees". It might be fun.

Please leave your ideas in the comment section. If I come up with anything decent I'll post it here.

This is going to be a wild week. MAB is at a conference in SF so I'm on my own. Last week was veryvery quiet. We were only a little over half full and went for days without any check ins. I got all my new additions up on the web site; that's how quiet it was. (Most weeks I'm lucky to update the wish list). I don't think it will be that quiet this week, more's the pity. On the plus side, I'll likely be logging some overtime, which I can spend for some days off over the summer. Because even if you totally love everything about your job you sometimes need a break.

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Real Quick

Movies you should watch if you haven't yet:

"Across the Universe"

"War, Inc."

No time for proper reviews. Just watch them. The first is enjoyable. The second, uncomfortable but important. (Plus, John Cusak. Love. Him.)


Friday, May 01, 2009

No Baskets for You

Yesterday I reminded The Child that "tomorrow is May Day". She looked thoughtful.

"Are you going to take May baskets around?"

She looked thoughtful some more than turned to me and said, "I think I'd rather sleep in".

She's gotten too big for a tradition. That makes me sad.

Except my lilacs are blooming and it is a perfect May Day, with blossoms snowing through the air and birdsong coming in through the open kitchen door.

Let the frolic begin.

Vanessa Redgrave & the cast of "Camelot" "The Lusty Month of May"

(Isn't she impossibly beautiful?)

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