Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Historic Week

I did feel the weight of history on Thursday evening, listening to Barack Obama accept the Democratic presidential nomination. Pretty amazing, and I'm glad that happened in my lifetime. And, as Hillary Clinton pointed out in her speech earlier that week, her mom had been born before women had the vote, yet things changed so rapidly that her daughter was able to vote for a woman--and her own mother to boot. No matter which candidate gets elected, we'll either have the first black president or the first woman Veep. Pretty amazing.

I really enjoyed Obama's speech, and think Biden was a good choice. M pointed out that one very important point Obama didn't address was a promise to change this administration's policy of condoning torture and shredding of our Constitutional rights, and I agree that's a pretty big oversight. I'd hate to think that Obama is OK with those things, though he did vote to absolve the phone spying via that FISA Amendments/Protect America act, so I guess he supports at least some of it. Ick.

Re Sarah Palin as VP, I think McCain didn't do himself any favors by picking someone with so few qualifications. I understand what gaps in his campaign he's trying to fill, but weren't there any other, more experienced Republican women? M says all they're all "batshit crazy"--Liddy Dole, Kay Bailey Hutchison. He says Christy Todd Whitman probably would've been the best choice experience-wise, though I didn't like her leadership at the EPA, and M says she was "ratf**ked" (he's full of the savory phrases this morning) out of that department so she must've really made some party members unhappy. Well, looking forward to listening to the GOP version next week.

Party slippers
Originally uploaded by suzipaw

M and I are headed up to Mom's for a quick overnight break on the coast. We'll be back tomorrow--he's off to see his good friend Eric race a couple of his bikes at Bonneville for a few days on Monday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

All Clear--for Now

Quick health post, since this seems to by my Annus Physicianis (yes, I'm making that up--if anyone has a better suggestion for Year of the Doctors Offices, let me know): had my "body mapping" appointment with my dermatologist today. It was much quicker and therefore less excruciating than I had anticipated. And I left with all my moles intact and attached to me, which was a relief. (And apparently, there are a lot, more than average.) I have to go back every six months for two years, but if that's all that's needed, I'm OK with it.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A "Real" Weekend

I need more creative post titles, I know.

It's Saturday afternoon, the furry creatures dozing in the heat, breeze roughing up the oak leaves and making the screen door squeeeeeak back and forth like a haunted house. M and I are on our respective laptops, surfing, I'm doing a little work, trying to pull the trigger on my airline tickets to New York next month. (What restaurant shall I try with my friend on my last night there, btw? We weren't able to snag reservations at Babbo, unfortunately.) We've just come back from a very dear hunting and gathering trip to Whole Foods--M-made marinara is simmering, white Dry Creek peaches and fromage d'Affinois soften on the counter, attracted by culinary magnetism towards the sourdough batard beside it. Thank god my stomach is finally back to normal, I've got some good eatin' to do tonight.

It feels like years since I've had a weekend day like this. M and I have actually had a few conversations! We may go for a row around the teensy local lake tomorrow! I signed up for another glass fusing class for the fall! We listened to much of the Obama-Biden announcement on the radio together! It was just strange and wonderful that neither of us has run off to work or study, and the stress around M not having a full time job yet or knowing the Bar exam results is staying neatly in a dark corner--for now.


M had an excellent camping experience, he reports, particularly after the guys who had the loud gas generator running til midnight (he suspects they were watching porn in their tent) packed up and left. He caught fish, they ate well, and the water temperature in the reservoir was pleasant enough to float in for hours. It did sprinkle one night and rain the next, but luckily they had the rain fly handy. He said there was a day or two when they were the only campers and suggested that we definitely plan a trip next summer, midweek so we could have the place to ourselves, hopefully. I'm all for that.


This week marks ten years exactly since I moved from New York to California, and I've been thinking about that moving experience specifically and living in New York generally lately. Also spurred, I'm sure by the trip East I've got coming up in a few weeks, and by the songs I've been humming from "Enchanted" all week. I mentioned this anniversary to a friend at work and she gushed, "And look how much has happened to you! You bought a house, you got married, you have a wonderful career!" (She's also my boss.) And she's right, the past decade has had its share of milestones--like the decades before. Does a life ever run out of milestones? (I just felt like Carrie Bradshaw typing that question on my Mac.)

Another milestone I hit this decade--I'm fairly used to being incredibly nearsighted and wearing contact lenses (it's hard for me to wear glasses regularly since the difference in my peripheral vision that the glasses don't cover is disconcerting), but it was a bummer in my eye exam yesterday when my optometrist recommended that I get reading glasses AND driving glasses. To wear over my contact lenses!


So my campaign to bring back the term "foxy" never took off (though I'm still trying), but I'm toying with another word from the '70s--"primo." What do you think?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bleck-y Weekend

Mini golfing
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
It was a long busy week back at work. My new assistant started on Wednesday, and I'm hopeful for a happy match. I was actually pleased to be back at work, despite the long days--I heard a good piece of news and some funny gossip my first day back, and that definitely contributed to positive outlook. And I'm really lucky to like everyone I work with these days--I certainly don't take that for granted.

M and I took my niece out for dinner and a round of mini-golf on Thursday evening. She's back off to college--can't believe she's already starting her sophomore year! Time, she is a-flying. I need to visit her new apartment this fall.

I saw M off on his fishing trip before 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, went back to bed to have some bad dreams, got up in time to chat with a friend who was picking up clay and supplies to take up to Mom, then started feeling pretty crappy. I made it to the farmers market for peaches, strawberries, tomatoes, but then had to get horizontal. Much to Veronica's delight ("human is finally understanding the Zen of feline repose!"), I spent the day watching Olympic gymnastics on M's laptop and reading in bed, watching the rest of West Side Story and Enchanted lying down in the TV room, always accompanied by her. I couldn't stomach much besides a handful of strawberries and an ear of corn--which maybe is not such a bad thing, I'd love to lose a few pounds before my NY trip next month. My skin ached, I had chills, and lying down was the only way my stomach wouldn't hurt so much. Around 10:00 p.m. last night the pain got so bad I made a little altar in front of the toilet and tried to upchuck whatever it was, but not much came up. I had a pretty good night's sleep, aside from Veronica meowing loudly in my ear and dragging her belly fur across my neck in a vain attempt to make me get up and give her some tuna (she slept in her own room after that). I do feel better today and hope to get a few things accomplished, work- and craft-wise (I need to finish off the Flip video cozy I started last week:

M will be back from his fishing trip on Tuesday. It was fun helping him plan his equipment and menu, which for some mysterious reason did not include, um, fish. I miss him and sleeping with Rex, but Veronica is quite happy to have them gone and me to herself. He has a part time job overseeing the Small Claims clinic, which is a good start.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Vacation Ends, Sigh

DOJ Group photo
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
We're back. It's taken me about three days to write this post, I keep thinking of things to add. It was a wonderful reunion. Everything seemed to work out beautifully. Almost everyone was able to come, at least for a few days. The weather was perfect. The space at Oz Farm was just right--plenty of room for privacy and sleeping habits and spreading out and also coming together for food and games.

We swam in the river. We hit the foggy beach. Grand meals were magically cooked, many featuring tomatoes and veggies Jay had grown, and dishes were magically washed. We read trashy magazines. We slept late, stayed up late, imbibed many cases of various liquids. We wandered around the cabins, wondering at how they'd changed since we'd lived there. We admired the many birds and the morning quiet (except when the generator fired up at 8:00 a.m. on a couple of days--I suspect our use of the cappuccino machine drained the modest solar electrical system). Bees hummed in the lavender and herbs. Mom brought down bisque-fired pottery that people glazed and she fired in time for the souvenirs to be taken home. We played Bananagrams, Texas Hold 'em, 31, Trivial Pursuit, Killer, croquet, and pingpong.

I think the triumph of the whole reunion was a variation on pingpong we invented. Six of us were standing around trying to figure out how to all play at once with only four paddles when Hannah mentioned how in her gym class they lined up for drills, and Hit n Run was born. (Chiara/Chhibber girls, who came up with the name?) Two more people joined us and we single-filed four per side and took turns hitting the ball then sprinting to the other side and handing off the paddle to the next paddle-less person in the line. Not many balls actually hit the table, and hilarity ensued when people ran the wrong way around the table, but it got the blood pumping and was screaming good fun.

But mostly we just enjoyed talking, reading, and relaxation (or "nothingness" as M called, though that sounds a bit too philosophically charged to me) that the lack of electricity, internet connection, and much cell phone reception enforced.

On that Thursday afternoon, Rex and I motored back down to Santa Rosa to surprise M on his return from the Bar examination experience. I wasn't sure if he had made plans or just wanted to be left the hell alone, but figured it was worth the risk. And I think he was glad to see me. We had a nice dinner at a new Japanese restaurant then saw "The Dark Knight." Seemed like he just needed to park his brain in neutral for a while. And I was certainly glad to sleep in my own comfortable bed for a night. We headed back up late the next morning after a Costco run for more supplies.

On Saturday, we had an afternoon party, inviting friends to join us who had lived on the commune when we were there. More good food, games, swimming, sitting around under the apple trees and talking. We were lucky that day in that our friend Franklin the photographer came to the party, so we have professional group shots as keepsakes.

I think one of the nicest things that came out of it for me, aside from reconnecting with family, was making memories of the place that were recent and happy. Not that my time living there lo these many years ago was all negative, but it had a huge impact on the rest of my life and I like that it's now unstuck from that one frozen place in time. One of my strongest overall memories is how afraid of the dark I was when I lived there--and there was a lot of dark, even in the summertime and I was wondering if I'd grown out of that fear. Kamala stayed with me in the Tower until M arrived, so I only had a few moments of "what was that sound?" anxiety, and managed to make the walk to the cabin without much worry. Having Rex with me also helped, though he slept pretty soundly at night after his long days of snapping at bees and keeping watch for cats. One of the worst dark moments I had was waking up in the middle of the night to a strange fluttering noise, coming to the conclusion that a bat had gotten in and was whooshing about. I had to keep reminding myself how much I appreciate bats and their importance in the animal kingdom but it took me a while to get back to sleep.

I really enjoyed being surrounded by trees and countryside, so far from the suburbs, no neighbors to overhear yelling at their children, discussing beer drinking and proper court appearance proceedings. We all appreciated being able to see the Milky Way and so many stars! Rex and I encountered cottontails on the road to the Community House almost every morning, much to his delight--they seemed to almost be waiting for us to catch sight of them before bolting off into the brush. I also felt myself slipping into that state of not really being very concerned about how I looked, if my feet were dirty, my hair combed--who cared? We were all family. Well, I did shower almost every day…but when we went to town early one morning to drop Kamala and the kids off at the bus to SF and I realized I was in not-to-fresh sweats, a scarf over my hair hippie-style, and probably a little bleary eyed I felt a twinge. But not for too long.

Rex behaved himself for the most part--got along well with everyone, felt comfortable enough to go off with other people, and even played with the puppy that lives on the property, something he doesn't do very often. We did have one unfortunate incident on Saturday when an unlucky hen wandered over to the Community House and Rex chased it back to the hen house, tearing out feathers from one and actually drawing blood from another, though there were no fatalities, thank goodness. He also contracted conjunctivitis, which apparently is a water borne condition, who knew? He may have been exposed when, gingerly walking out on a branch over the river, tumbled in when he stepped out onto some thick green algae that he probably mistook for solid land. Or maybe when, investigating a tree trunk at the surfline at the beach, was unceremoniously engulfed in a wave he didn't see coming. Those two inadvertent dunks in the drink had more lasting effects than just chilling and humiliating him. We got some eye drops from the vet on Thursday and already his eyes are better, but are still bothering him a bit.

People started to leave on Sunday and Monday morning. It was sad and a bit anticlimactic for me…the waving-goodbye group growing smaller and smaller. M and I stayed on at Mom's for a couple of days after most people left, continuing the vacation feeling, but with better beds and TV. Mom, Aunt, Uncle, and I took a very nice afternoon tour of Fort Bragg and Mendocino one day.

And then it was time to head home. We were greeted by Veronica's loud scolding meows, the first of the naked ladies blooming, and this snake when we arrived. Rex was particularly excited by the latter.

Seems like it took a day just to do the laundry, unpack, wash the thick dust off the car. We're still enjoying our time off. I haven't done any office work, though it's a regular thread weaving in and out of my thoughts. I bought four books at the Salvation Army on Friday (everything was half off!) and am tearing through Judy Blume's "Summer Sisters." I misjudged the proportions of the first felted Flip cozy and am trying again (swatching first is very important, I know!). M and I have been watching movies and generally just puttering at a very leisurely pace. He bought a copy of the complete Sherlock Holmes series on date night and is happily making his way through those stories. Time is such a luxury and I'm definitely squandering it!

In other important news, I'm deeply thrilled to report that the Bar exam went off fairly smoothly, and M's feeling extremely cautiously optimistic that he'll pass, difficult as it was. We'll know for sure at 6:00 p.m. on November 21 when the results are posted on the State Bar web site. Ack. In the meantime, he's applying for temporary work, teaching classes by night and doing document discovery by day, both law-ish related. We're both trying very hard to be positive about what's ahead, even though we have absolutely no clues about his test results or job prospects. That's a difficult exercise for me. But one good thing, with the gas prices and economy the way they are, there's no way he can go back to selling cars, hah.

Mostly, it's wonderful having him "here" again. It's as though the aliens have finished their no doubt probing examination and have beamed him back to his body. He's smiling again, an expression I don't think I've seen on his face for months. Speaking of his face, he shaved his beard off on Friday. He's been meaning to do it for some time, intending to leave the mustache and goatee, but he shaved into the goatee too deeply and had to just take it all off. It's been ages since I've seen him facial hair free, he looks like a baby. Which maybe is a good simile for this juncture in his life, the birth of a new career. It's odd thinking that we'll be able to spend weekends together now, starting with this one! We went to a friend's (aforementioned Franklin) birthday party in Berkeley last night, which was a lot of fun. I had hoped to go into the City early to see the Chihuly exhibit, but it was already sold out, unfortunately. I'll have to go another time. Maybe with M, what a crazy thought!

It's Sunday, I'll be back in the office and gym tomorrow bright and early, and so will endeavor to spend my mental energy today focusing on my Flip cozy project and DOJ movie editing rather than the thousands of email messages and work project catching up I'll have to do soon enough…