Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Consequences of Tempting Fate

Oh, the fun continues. So we finally ordered, received, and installed the hospital track for the shower curtain in the never-ending bathroom remodel. A standard shower curtain is just a scoche too short, but we found some funky extra rings to extend it. I was excited during this final phase; M withheld judgment, because "something always happens." But this all went smoothly! We showered in our "master" bath, for the first time in nine months! (Aw, like a baby!) But then, sure enough the trend continued: as M tried to tighten down the showerhead connection, which was leaking everso slightly, he broke off the entire top of the showerhead arm. Water was shooting out like a bidet for a nine-foot woman. So no more showers in the "master" bath for a while.

The shower before the decapitation:


French fries cause cancer. Oh. My. God. World. Coming. To. End.

Monday, August 29, 2005


So it's been seven years since my somewhat triumphant return to the Left Coast. I'm trying to recall my expectations, my dreams of how life would be settled down here. I don't know that I really had any--is that memory loss convenient, or do I just prefer not to think too deeply about it? Perhaps I choose not to remember too many details precisely because it was just the opposite of triumphant--moving out of New York was not exactly my idea, and the cost of living there sort of shouted "don't let the door hit you on the ass" as I exited. And while I returned to family and a certain familiarity with the landscape, I had to start over in so many ways. Particularly in my so-called career, which was a humbling experience. Though perhaps that's not such a bad thing.


It IS different: I bought my first post-nuptial issue of Martha Stewart Living Weddings and, somewhat sadly, I report it just wasn't the same experience. I did have numerous "My dress was sooo much nicer!" moments. But the little future fantasies I used to indulge in were--of course--gone. It's now all about the recipes, Good Things projects, and comparisons of actual events, not the wishbook it used to be. And I'm OK with that. Now, should I keep on purchasing MSLW issues just to continue to have a complete set? Stop now? Or give them all away to another bride-to-be who might cherish them as I did?


Just a beautiful tree, is it not?

Oak, Victorian

Friday, August 26, 2005

Home Again, Again

Back from a trip up the coast to my mom's. A lovely, foggy time was had by all. (We left Tuesday after M's interview, which went well, thanks for thinking of him. Now he just has to try to be patient for the results, which he won't know for at least another week.) Two whole days plus one morning of good food, walks on the beach and through the woods, and sleeping in just went by too quickly. We even watched a little network TV--oh those commercials are just painful. We did take in The Cooler with William H. Macy, which I enjoyed. I brought "The Half-Blood Prince" but just couldn't quite find the time to crack it.

We did have one adventure. We drove a big ol' rusty Chevy truck down to the snooty part of the coast, The Sea Ranch, to pick up a clay slab roller that my mom had agreed to house for her pottery class. The artist was moving, and so not only was she parting with the slab roller, but her large, shiny, almost new kiln as well. My mom couldn't resist, and so we loaded that sucker into the back of the truck and roared back to her place, the more expensive cars on the road giving us Beverly Hillbilly types a wide berth. Mom's excited. Now she can fire to cone 10. She wanted it to go to 11, but 10 will have to do.


crashed blanche

My stepdad is doing OK after his accident. Blanche used to be my car. It's my theory that she couldn't bear to face the same fate as his other car, an ancient Golf that has been resurrected so many times it could've transported Lazarus from his tomb, and so committed auto-seppuku. Unfortunately, she had to have a driver to do it.

Manchester School

I spent 7th and 8th grades in the room on the second floor to the right. I'm glad they didn't tear down this building when they built the new elementary school, but I hate seeing it in such sad shape. That's one of my lotto fantasies: buy this building and fix it up for the community. It could be a visitor's center, gallery for local artists, meeting space...

Alder creek

Alder Creek beach, where we took a nice walk on Wednesday. Fog, fog, fog.

So now I'm home, surfing my favorite sites, which I missed while I was gone. M had to go to work this afternoon, and now I'm missing him. We have a date tonight after he gets off work, to watch the end of the Raider game at Applebee's. What to to til then? Lay in the sun listening to "Master and Commander"? Print out some wedding photos for my guest book? Start Harry Potter, finally? Shop for some fruit? (I have a hankering for melon.) Decisions, decisions. Maybe a little of all of the above.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Oh Great Flying Spaghetti Monster,

Please look down with all the power of Your saucy grace upon M today, who has his big interview with the Public Defenders Office this afternoon. He needs all of the strength of Your noodly appendages to help him overcome the evil that is the car sales business. Please allow him to prevail in the interview so that he can get started on the path to non-evil attorneydom.

May Your carbo-rich blessings be upon us forever, amen.

Your humble server,

Monday, August 22, 2005

"Progress" and Retreat

(Mostly written Saturday, sorry for the delayed post)

It was so depressing, that walk a few nights ago--why did I do it again? My curiosity got the better of me, perhaps. And the sight of an entire neighborhood, cramped, paved, and stuccoed springing up complete would be too horrific to bear all at once. Better to see it in increments, to try to accustom myself to the new reality as it's constructed.

So once again, the night before last, Rex and I walked through the model homes to the hill behind, where men with enormous machines are tearing up what was once a perfectly lovely field ringed by oak-covered slopes. Night was coming, but in between was a thick low layer of clouds that ended at the rim of hills westward, like a lid that wasn't quite closed. The sunset limned the edge of land and sky, heightening the bruised darkness of the clouds directly above me. The terraced home lots, descending deeper than the original level of the field, looked like fresh graves. (Yes, I was in a foul mood.) Here was the dusty artery of a road overlaying the bones of the field. The crowded future pressed on my heart. Dog and I followed the road up the hill, where I'd never been before--where would this road lead to, I wondered? There's nothing down that way yet. Yet. Oh.

The oaks on either side of the road were huge, old, that over-used word, majestic--would anyone even see them once the road was finished? Would they just rush by thoughtlessly? It was all just crushingly sad. And I felt unsafe, too. Like a four-wheeler would come screeching around a corner, throwing up gravel and taking out me, the dog, or both. That I would encounter some rough fellows and the landscaped wouldn't be the only thing ripped up. I was amazed that I didn't fear the dark as much as I once did. Well, I guess I was afraid, but my fear was rooted in the world I actually live in rather than the supernatural like it once was. The darkness used to make me worry about vampires, but I fear my fellow man much more now. Soon, I wouldn't be able to walk in the middle of the road as I was doing--it would become four lanes of traffic.

Back through the homes being built, an SUV cruised the streets across from us, headlights shining through the metal and board skeletons of new homes. I was reminded again that soon someone would be living there. Happy, I hope, to make up for the grasslands that are now lost.


I'm at our writers retreat in Stinson Beach. Sound of waves, wind in the bamboo, three sets of fingers tiptaptyping on Mac laptops; belly full of good cheese, good bread, and chocolate. I'm ensconced on the sofa of Julia's parents' beach cabin, working on the God essay, and I realize I just don't have anything new to add to the discussion of the Divine. I can't even parrot the tired arguments in a sassy fashion. I'm just complaining, railing--and not even very cogently. Maybe I should go back to the foot-loose-and-child-free essay. Or the novel (I almost typed "navel" hmm), which Nancy recently asked after.

PWG retreating

There's also the possibility of exiting the beach house and heading out to the actual beach with pen and notebook. I've been thinking a poem might be in order, since this retreat is a special day, and should be commemorated. But I'm so out of practice. Perhaps another piece of chocolate will help guide me.




OK. Back from the beach. Twice.

The first time, I just sat on the beach, watching the passersby, particularly the dogs. One was obsessed with its master's boogie board, knocking it down at every opportunity so he could try to bury it. One couple carefully built a small dune before spreading their blanket--they reclined in unison upon their sandy lounge. And that's all I did. Watched. Closed my eyes and listened. I couldn't believe this was my first trip to the beach this season. Well, I've had a busy summer.

The second time, all three of us went for a walk. Lovely beach houses peeked just above the dunes. We passed a dead seal, and on the way back, a man was kneeling by the carcass, gloved hands bright red, dipping in and out of the dark body. An artist? Scientist? Culinary adventurer? On a dare, Rebecca went up to ask him his business with the departed pinniped: he was with the California Academy of Science, harvesting the skull and penis bone for bacterial testing. I admire people with the stomach for that kind of work.

However, no poetry, no breakthroughs today. I did get some writing done, however, and that's the main thing. The wonderful surrounds was certainly a bonus.


P.S. to Don: Get Well Soon!


A fine, busy Sunday it was: back down to San Rafael for a clothes swap with a group of galpals. Nothing like wandering around in your underwear trying to select a bag or two of free, good quality clothes from the rooms of it available to lift one's spirits. A dear friend was there, and we had a snack, a chat, and a shop in the tony mall in Corte Madera afterwards. It was such a nice spur of the moment date with my friend--I wish I could see her more often.

While at the mall, I tried to spend a wedding gift in Williams-Sonoma, but just couldn't quite find the right item. At Crate & Barrel, however, they've added pieces to our wedding china set. Holy cats! We now have *another* platter (like we need it) and a salt-and-pepper set--though we grind our pepper and use only sea or kosher salt. But they're just so dang cute. I tell myself it's an investment, it'll become collectible after Eva passes. Well, it's almost a plausible excuse...

Friday, August 19, 2005

I Found It

The lipstick. Just where I thought it would be.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My Idea of Domestic Drama

Setting: A small bedroom in a small home in a rickety suburb at the edge of town. He is in bed, looking at a laptop computer.

She (offstage): Honey?

He: Yes?

She: When we get rich and move, what do you think about having a chaise lounge in the bathroom?

He: (After a pause) Huh?

She: You know--a bathroom big enough to hold a chaise lounge.

(Another pause.)

He: And...why would we have a chaise lounge in the bathroom?

She: Well, you know--to relax. It'd be a room big enough to hang out in, like any other room in the house.

He: Why would we hang out in the bathroom?

She: Well, because we could. I could be taking a bath, and you could be lounging on the chaise lounge. Reading to me. From your laptop. Like you do every night.

He: And I think I have elaborate fantasies.

Cue laugh track. Cut to Ethan Allen commercial.

Monday, August 15, 2005

My Purse as an Illustration of My Life

I lost my favorite lipstick on my trip to Portland. I put it somewhere handy, so I could refresh it often and try to look pretty in public for the flight home--my suit pocket, maybe, or my purse. (Funny how much more makeup I wear these days--the youthful, fresh look just doesn't come as naturally to me anymore, sigh.) But I can't find the lipstick. It's not in any of my pockets. Not in a strange corner of my luggage or toiletry bag. I keep digging in my purse, thinking "I'll find it this time," because that's happened to me so often with other items that I thought lost. In my quest for my lipstick, I've discovered my small tape measure that I use for knitting--several times. I keep forgetting to pull it out and put it back in my knitting basket, and I'm sure when I go to look for it there, I won't remember that it's actually safely stowed in my purse. My purse isn't very big, but somehow good-sized objects find their way into folds and only reveal themselves after I'm convinced that they're lost and replaced them.

And so it is with my life, sorta--I keep looking for aspects of it that will put the finishing touches on things, but they remain in the dark recesses, waiting to surprise me for when I'm *not* looking for them.


Words for the day, from "A Sea of Words," loaned to me by my friend Marsee, she of the loaning of "Master and Commander":

  • Ablation: The removal of any part of the body by surgery.
  • Acushla: A term of endearment, like "dear heart" or "my darling." Originally from Irish cuisle, "pulse of the heart."


    Have I said lately how happy I am that I'm married? It's just such a wonderful feeling to be so deeply connected to another person. Not that we weren't before, but we didn't have matching rings to bonk together with the phrase, "Wonder Twins, power activate!" like we do now. We were making dinner in the kitchen last night when "Cupid" by Sam Cooke started up on the boombox. We had to pause in our culinary chores to move into a clinch while M sang along with Sam. My life is far from perfect, but that moment was.

  • Sunday, August 14, 2005

    Gas and God, Culture and Career

    Crazy, I know, but I'm glad gas prices are rising. Maybe it will help us come to our collective senses about driving enormous, damn-the-natural-resources gas guzzling vehicles (lifted trucks and SUVs are the norm here), and about the fact that fossil fuels are history, so to write. There's just not much to like about the oil industry, except that it's ubiquitous. My father's generation saw the rise of the gas-powered vehicle. I hope I'll be around long enough to see its demise. While I have a full-sized car (we are big people), it gets pretty good mileage, and neither of us have to commute very far. Maybe the high prices will inspire even me to dust off Fuji (my bicycle) for my nearby errands. Hard to believe it now, but there was a time in my young adult life when I didn't own a car, and my world was defined by bus, bike, or bipedal exertion. Grocery shopping and trips to laundromat were a big bitch, however. Ah college daze...


    M recommends that I blog the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which he was introduced to via one of his favorite sites, Jesus' General. (I get treated to sermons from it most nights.) While I think FSM dogma goes a little too far, when you think about some of the wackiness of many of our religions, it's really not too beyond of the realm of belief. One danger of worshipping FSM--would it make me hungry for Italian all the time? And if so, would I have to refrain from supping on spaghetti, or would it be the only meal I could partake of?


    I almost bagged tickets to our Cotati Accordion Festival yesterday. The local NPR station was giving away tickets to the seventh caller, and I was second and sixth. Maybe it's just as well--a whole day of accordions might be tough to take. Though it sounded like an interesting mix of zydeco, Sweden via the Midwest, and norteno versions of that fine yet maligned instrument.

    I'm trying to think of more cultural things to do on date night. Our usual activity is going out to dinner at new (to us) restaurants, which we've had excellent luck with lately, by the way. We're planning on taking in Shakespeare in the Park on Tuesday evening with my mom and stepdad. It's "Twelfth Night," and picnicking before the show is encouraged, so that should be fun. It ain't cheap, however, but I figure that supporting our community arts is part of my charitable duty.


    A stressful week ahead for M--he has a final on Thursday, then (gulp), an interview at the public defenders office a week from Tuesday. We both can hardly stand to think about how radically that would change our lives--A new career embarked upon! Weekends together! No more horrible car sales customers to bitch about! It's also only part time, so there's the financial issue to contend with. I shouldn't have even written about it, I'm so afraid of jinxing it. But que sera, sera and really it's up to the Magic 8Ball and Flying Spaghetti Monster anyway.

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    Miss Me?

    I feel bad about not blogging more this week, but a houseguest and a headache (unrelated--though the guest wasn't, it was my mother-in-law) prevented me from posting. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Aforementioned headache was also my excuse for not having any new writing to bring to writers group last night. I'm still really struggling with the God essay, but I at least decided to break it up into chunks, and try to attack it in pieces. Maybe a whole will emerge eventually that way. But as we gleefully planned for our writerly retreat a week from today, I felt sure that the writing muse will be showering inspiration upon me, and I'll produce much more that mere blog entries next week. Well, I did I write several work-related pages in the last couple of days, and I don't feel so guilty if I count them.

    We spent some time jawing about our blogs last night, so I've spent the last 63% of my battery poking around the blogosphere (Opinionistas is a new one I really like, probably because it's a peek into my New York past and a simultaneous peek into M's future), adding a site feed (Julia!), and digging a bit deeper into my reader stats. Which are quite interesting. Betcha didn't know I was keeping track, did ya?! I'm hiding my stat counter, but now the secret's out. Oh well, I hope you come back anyway.


    My fortune from earlier this week: "Get your mind set in the path it should follow." How can I get my mind set if Fortune doesn't tell me? Another fortune cracked today in a stale (sadly) cookie: "You will inherit some money or a small piece of land." That's more like it!

    Rob, however, is more robust: "I hope you will take aggressive action to avoid falling victim to misplaced priorities in your personal life. Don't you dare let trivial spectacles divert you from healing the sorest spot in your world." Yes, I have much to not-blog about. (See, I have drama. I just choose not to share publicly.)


    We had a nice time with M's mom earlier this week. We decided to drive home through San Francisco after picking her up in Oakland. Driven predominantly by hunger, we stopped near Fisherman's Wharf for dinner. We weren't dressed for the chilly SF evening, but had a lovely view of the bay from a sorta swanky McCormick & Kuleto's, a seafood joint in Ghiradelli Square. Which we weren't dressed for either, but they tolerated us. We spent the next day sprawled in various locations (mostly the deck) and chatting, but went on an evening drive to take in the wine country air. And it was beautiful, particularly Westside Road in the ever-goldening light--the oak-bordered vineyards with dark grapes dangling like fringe from the vines, which are now being trained so the branches are always reaching upward, in vain. The old vines, thick as small tree trunks, sprout their vines like wigs or fountains, fruit bunches harder to find among the domed spray of perfect green leaves.

    We used her visit as an excuse to break out as many wedding gift items as possible:
    Wedding booty


    What is it about empty chairs, the sight of them arranged around a pool or dining table? Are they the embodiment of embrace? Or emptiness?


    My uncle sent me the photo, below, of his newest creation:
    Glass 2005 3 Double Spinnaker 003
    It's hard to see in the photo, but the sail is 3-D, jutting out perpendicular to the plane of the window. How great is that? He's a wonderful, precise woodworker, too.


    A sign that summer ends soon...
    Naked Ladies

    Monday, August 08, 2005

    Google Moon

    This link's for you, Paw! Zoom all the way in for some humor.


    Happy Birthday, Brandon!

    Sunday, August 07, 2005

    Origami & Science

    I don't go to any of the deeply technical presentations at our conferences, but I do try to see the keynotes, which are more general/visionary and, to me, way more interesting. One in particular was very inspiring: Robert Lang, a scientist who took up origami. He's made some incredibly beautiful pieces. His talk was very brief, but he pointed out how computers have transformed origami--there are programs that can create incredibly complex folding diagrams from stick-figure drawings--and how origami has transformed industrial and scientific design, for example the recent solar sail project, informing how to best fold airbags in cars, and allowing the launch of a telescope into space.

    Other recent origami sightings, via BoingBoing: Paper Forest and an origami house.

    Saturday, August 06, 2005

    Home Yet Again

    I've returned home to the first naked lady blooming under the oak. A large line of geese honked low in the sky this morning as I ripped the yellow, rattling sweet peas out of the barrels. Can fall be inching into the wings so soon? Bills have been paid, dishwasher unloaded, Whole Foods run made (I pulled an M there, coming home with at least one bag full of goodies distinctly *not* on the list), pesto made (the basil went from wimpy to robust in the last month); laundry is being contemplated. I'm so glad to not be at the conference today, but I'm feeling oddly deflated. Think I'll blame the heat, PMS, and the fact that M of course had to work today, so I've just been rattling around our nest alone. Well, watching Veronica Guerin at 11:00 a.m. this morning was hardly an uplifting activity, either. Maybe a dog walk will help.


    Club Wed

    I had a lovely escape from the conference Thursday night, in the form of dinner at a Thai restaurant in downtown Portland with my cousin and his wife. I don't eat much Thai food these day--M suffered from food poisoning last year on a re-frozen curry dish and understandably his passion for coconut milk dishes has soured.

    My cousin and I have only seen each other a few times in the past couple of years, and we had a 20 year stretch of not visiting at all, but we manage to share several important similarities--genetics?: vegetarian child-free middle-kid writers who both re-married this year. Well, *he's* a writer, with several novels under his belt. I should just start calling myself a blogger. In fact, I think I'll fill in my tax return with that title this year.

    One of the topics we discussed over salad rolls and pineapple curry was socializing with peers and friends who are parents. (I've been trying to write a more formal essay about what it means to be middle-aged and child-free, but it's going the way of the God essay--more angry and whining and meandering than I ever meant it to be. Hmm.) My cousin's wife, as a seventh grade teacher, feels she gets in plenty of nurture time, which was nice to hear. I get the impression that teachers these days are expected to be parental figures, which strikes me as a no-win situation. We didn't spend too much time on the topic, but I did bring up the idea that maybe there is something biologically wrong with us for not wanting to have children. Maybe we were just looking to reassure each other that it's OK to not want to be parents, what with all the parental judging/rivalry, expense, dismal future of our society. That there are other people like us. In fact, I saw a book in Powells that made me chuckle, Baby Not on Board--maybe I need to try harder to see the humor in the situation rather than the exclusion.

    Especially since I do feel like I've inched a bit closer to the in-club by getting married. Like M and I can finally be taken seriously and officially as a couple, though not as a family. I guess I'm in the foyer now, trying to convince the maitre d' to seat us in the main room. But no act can approach giving birth, so I'll have to content myself with pacing back and forth by the coat check until the sands of time pile up, the children leave the nest, and my parent peers can come outside for some fresh air, unburdened and "just" a couple again. I anticipate that I'll have a small window of equal footing time before grandparenting kicks in and the clubhouse door is once again closed firmly in my face.


    I finished Sick Puppy on the plane home yesterday. It was OK. Well written, and the plot certainly moved along, but the characters were so cartoonish. Perhaps that was the point, part of the humor. And it certainly fit the summer read criteria. But I'm ready to move on to the latest Harry Potter, since M is already deep into the last Horatio Hornblower book on our list, "Hornblower During the Crisis," which is what I picked up at Powells. He put down the Oregon floatie pen I brought him and cracked the book as soon as I handed it to him.

    I should get going. We may go out to see "Dukes of Hazzard" tonight, mostly so M can ogle the Chargers. He had a '68 Charger when we first met, and he had to sell it when he moved to New York to be with me, and I suspect it's his biggest regret in life.

    Thursday, August 04, 2005

    Credit where it's due

    There's so much art here in the convention center that they have a brochure/guide for it all. The photos in the previous post are of "Ode to a Women's Restroom" by Dana Lynn Louis: "A celebration of our interconnections to the natural world."

    A Lovely, Unusual Restroom

    Don't know who designed this ladies' room at the Oregon Convention Center, but it's an awfully pretty place to pee.

    Monday, August 01, 2005

    ...I've Arrived

    Bullet-point recap:
    - Three and a half hours of heel-cooling in OAK
    - One and a half hours of peaceful flight
    - Point three hour of tear-spurting, dying cat-like yowling baby in the seat next to me
    - One afternoon of blabbing with aunt, uncle, and cousins I don't get to see often--and rarely at the same time!
    - Two helpings of marionberries, in a crisp and in a crepe
    - One visit to the fabulous Powell's; millons of books admired
    - One copy of "Hornblower During the Crisis" bagged, the only one I haven't read
    - Two double beds in the hotel room, and two sinks
    - One vegan mezza platter and one glass of peach juice consumed at Nicholas with work friend, one of the joys of visiting Portland
    - One half glass of water spilled onto mezza platter
    - One new bathing suit left at home
    - One convention underway, o hallejulah

    One nice thing: though we have no natural light in our staff office, we do have a view of the exhibit hall floor, and it's fun seeing the booths being built.