Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happiness Is…Being Home

It's hard being away for so long for work, particularly since the days are long too. I normally flee to my room at the first opportunity, but this year I actually attended several convention parties, which is the "right" thing to do for my job, but tough for introverted me after many hours of professional schmoozing. At two of the parties I met some nice people and had good conversations, which made for a pleasant experience. At another, which is known for its nerd debauchery and which I therefore have never attended before, I helped lead the dancing which I'm pretty sure the sponsors appreciated. I find that the older I get, the less I care if I make a fool of myself on dance floor. I just want to have a good time and lord knows I need the exercise.

I also enjoyed the couple of evenings I had to myself wandering around San Jose. While most were spent looking at the structures and lack of people and wishing I were home, I also got to wondering what it would be like if I didn't travel so much. Would I get too settled, incurious, a little fearful of new surroundings? If I only traveled for myself, would my zest for new places be rekindled and would I seek out more activities while away if it only happened once in a while? And/or would I forget how much I appreciate my home and the beings therein if I weren't traveling so much? I took odd pleasure in watering my plants and doing laundry yesterday. Maybe the home improvements are also raising the bar of happiness at being home.

I did come to the realization that one thing I don't get much of at home: people watching. In my usual rut, I'm too busy running errands, driving, working, or hanging around the pad to take in the great variety of my fellow man much. I was thinking this on one of my last nights in San Jose, walking back to the hotel with Thai take-out in tow, and was rewarded with this parade of humanity all in the space of about ten yards: a hardened, middle aged man, much too long in the tooth to be on a BMX bike, followed by two teenage boys, one aboard a skateboard, one on a bike with a board wedged into the handlebars; a pair of sightseeing couples from parts Midwestern I imagine, all khakis and flowered shirts, oohing about the tall buildings; and two Tibetan monks in their crimson and orange robes, shoulders bare, who watched me stare at them but were quick with a return smile when I broke mine out. I was most often armed with a grin on my San Jose forays. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I'm finally realizing that I don't have to have my New York gameface on in every city I go to after all and that expressing pleasure might help others to feel a bit happier too.

In other random news: While at the convention, a dear friend called to let me know she's splitting with her husband after many years of marriage. I think it's best for all concerned and is the necessary course of action for her to be happy again, but there are many sad things about it too, especially the effects on their children. The end of this month is the anniversary of M's Bar exam. Funny how even now he still feels the echoes of relief at not having to take the test again. This is also the anniversary of the last DoJ reunion. I miss you, DoJers, and wish I could be hanging with you at the lake. M is dutifully trying his sleeping mask, which is about as unobtrusive for me as something like that can be, but so far he's not having much success, mostly because the mask doesn't stay on well during the night. He's committed to making it work, however.

Not sure what we'll do today during this caesura of home improvement tasks. Brunch in Bodega Bay, perhaps.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another Staff Photo

Originally uploaded by juliancash
Julian Cash does some really cool stuff. We all had so much fun taking this picture together. Julian was great at helping us to have fun and feel at ease.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Away for a Week

I'm in my hotel room in San Jose, stuffed to the gills with exceedingly, painfully spicy Thai food. "Mamma Mia" is on the tube, planes soar unnervingly close to the window as they approach the nearby airport, and the sun is slipping behind the coastal range, giving the mist clinging to the tops of the trees and office buildings lining the floor of Silicon Valley an apropos gold and silver glow. I had a nice walkabout earlier, marveling at how empty the downtown area is on a Sunday, and how many lovely gingerbread-bedecked Victorian homes and old wooden churches and beautifully tiled public buildings are butted up against parking structures or homely concrete office towers or skanky bars. It was probably a very charming little city for many years and at least they're trying to keep the charm alive with new public art and historical preservation, despite the aesthetic chaos.

It was a week of cleaning and sorting and reorganizing. The new water filtration system makes strange sounds and the kitchen floor is in even worse shape than before (I think M was getting a little frustration out on the baseboards), but the new paint, countertops, and just general level of cleanliness is wonderful. It's odd how strongly I feel about the granite countertops. I confess to feeling very protective of them and caressing them often with sponges and dish towels. I still haven't had the heart to put anything really hot on them yet. It's been like Christmas for a week straight, waking up to seeing them. I hope that feeling will continue for quite a while. I'm not jettisoning nearly as much crap as I thought I would, which I think is a good thing--my various acquisition decisions over time have held up! But next month will bring that process to the rest of the house. I foresee many hard decisions ahead, particularly with regard to my many potential craft room projects.

Nice tidbit: I witnessed our very own version of the Free Hugs campaign on a corner in downtown Santa Rosa, and wished I weren't driving so I could've had a free hug from a stranger. (That video and the cartoon of the bulldog bringing home a kitten make me cry without fail.)

Time to make my call home and get ready for bed. Hopefully I'll finish off Hitch Hiker's Guide tonight (what a fun read it's been!).

Monday, July 13, 2009


Originally uploaded by suzipaw
They came out beautifully! Hoping our neighbor can come by this afternoon to hook up the water filter, faucet, and dishwasher.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Home Improvement in Earnest

First level of demo
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
Nothing like home improvement to demonstrate just how much crap you really own. The last couple of days I've been emptying the kitchen cabinets in preparation for painting and for the new countertops, which arrive tomorrow. Where did I get all this stuff? I recently read a quote from William Morris on the Martha Stewart Crafts Department blog: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." I'm trying to keep that as my mantra as I clear things out, and I'll have another opportunity to put my belonging through that filter when I reassemble the kitchen again. However, while I may have a lot of crap, I do have a lot of beautiful crap, that's for sure.

Because of all my cabinet-emptying, my work table in the craft room is completely covered with my more fragile items--wine glasses, Corningware dishes from Grandma, the like. That table is also Veronica's afternoon snooze spot, since it's a little cooler than her usual bed. As I was piling up the coffee mugs and Eva Zeisel teapot, a past incident popped into my head: Years ago, M's grandma had brought up some of her good crystal to bestow on us. We opened it late in the evening, admiring it. I knew I'd have some reshuffling of my cabinet to do, so against my better judgment, I left it sitting out on the dining room table. Sure enough, I awoke to a crashing sound in the middle of the night--Veronica had jumped up on the table to get a better look at what we had be oohing at (she can be very jealous), and had knocked off and broken two pieces of the stemware. So of course, yesterday afternoon, as we're wiping down the kitchen walls with TSP, we hear a crashing noise from the craft room. I have no idea how she did it, but Veronica had somehow made her way to her normal nap spot, which of course was had been usurped by juice glasses and the little turquoise and gold glasses from the '50s that a friend gave me upon my departure from New York, knocking down and breaking a full set of Eva Zeisel mugs from our wedding set in the process. Sigh. She meowed angrily at me at the time, but asked forgiveness by sitting on my lap and letting me pet her while we watched Chuck later that night. (I recommend "Chuck" btw.) Well, a good excuse to buy more Eva Zeisel stuff. It may not be cheap, but thank goodness it's still available. And I've been thinking about getting the cups and saucers anyway in addition to the mugs, just to have the whole entire set…

M has arisen, time to get a-spacklin'.

BTW, I've finally taken up "The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and I'm so glad I'm reading it. Babel fish, I get it now! I'm sure there will be other references I've been missing all these years that will finally make sense.

We're waiting for our delish pupusas.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

One Thing More

I forgot to mention one of my accomplishments over the Fourth of July weekend: reading a beautifully bound copy of memories my Uncle Madhu had put down of his youth in India before coming to the U.S. I so enjoyed it. It was such a personal, charming, and detailed window into another time and place. It definitely sheds more light on his affinity for Shakespeare. I'll have to re-read it on my next visit.

Well, OK, and another thing I've been meaning to update you about, in case you didn't know: M has been diagnosed by his doctor (whose physical description sounds like he resembles Mario Batali, only larger and somewhat West County) as having not just sleep apnea, but severe sleep apnea. His otolaryngologist added "profound" to that diagnosis. He's had his second sleep study, and it's looking like the smaller mask that fits over just his nose will be the best choice. Thank goodness.

Dishwasher installation and countertop prep starts tomorrow. Painting the kitchen over the weekend. Countertops installed on Monday. Eeee! "Patience and rock 'n' roll" was the prescription a friend at the gym prescribed for me. Please just let the Bosch range survive unscratched.

OK, this is it, really: M started guitar lessons again tonight, yay! I love it when he plays guitar. AND, and…he has an interview on Tuesday with the Mendocino County DA's office. I know this won't lead to anything, I know, the competition is so stiff, but it's exciting nonetheless.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Independence Day Recap

Arienne, Occidental
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
Nothing like a two-day work week. Doesn't that make more sense--working two days and off for five rather than the other way around?

I started last Wednesday neatening up for mother in law's arrival and paused to take Veronica to the vet. She's had some strange little bumps that spread to her ears and had definitely withdrawn a bit recently, eschewing my lap and even her twice-daily forays to the kitchen for tuna! It turned out to be nothing more than a flea allergy. I guess between the proximity to the dog and her five minute grass nibbles in the back 40, the fleas had conquered. So while it was a fairly straightforward visit, I did find out that it had been so long since she's been to the vet that they'd put her file in storage. And we did some bloodwork just to see if there were other issues to be aware of--and there aren't. She has the vitals of a feline 16 years her junior, apparently.

Arienne arrived just as I was finishing the household chores, good timing. M arrived soon after. It was a pleasant reunion. The next day M went off to work and we visited the Luther Burbank Home before meeting him in Occidental, a sweet little rural village, for lunch. He went back to work and we continued sightseeing, taking in the Charles M. Schulz Museum, pausing on our way out to watch the ice skaters do the hokey pokey. Ah, memories of my Girl Scout rollerskating badge. Dinner was enhanced by veggies from Jay hand delivered by niece Felicia when she came over for dinner on Tuesday.

Friday we made our way up to Mom and Don's in time for a late lunch. We went into town in time to enjoy the art gallery opening where Mom's pottery was on display, made a dinner of the reception food, then wandered down to the Wharf to claim a spot on the rocky beach to watch the fireworks later. Other friends joined us as the evening lengthened. I drank beer named for Point Arena, admired art cars, ate pizza, danced, hugged a few friends I hadn't seen for ages, and settled back onto the rocks in time to watch the pyrotechnics shooting from the end of the pier. Many we saw, many exploded behind the fog, illuminating the sky in warrior shades, all eliciting oohs and ahhs. I especially appreciated the funk soundtrack after years of the "patriotic" tunes played during the show in Santa Rosa. We made our way back to Main Street and thence home with the hundreds of others.

After a lazy Saturday morning, we went our separate ways, Mom and I to the parade, M and his mom to the lighthouse, a place she had been wanting to visit for years. It was a brief but enjoyable display along the main drag, holding up Highway One traffic in both directions, part of its charm. My friend Liz came back to the house for a lunch and a chat. After she left, the mellowness continued. I retired to the TV room to click between "Road House" and "Return of the Jedi" while M prepared cookies and molasses bread in the kitchen. Heaven! Followed by yet another meal of garden grown veggies (and for the carnivores, a first sample of the grass fed beef quarter we went in on, to much acclaim) and a fairly early bedtime.

Sunday was another day infused with relaxation, enforced by low coastal clouds and the baking up of the bread and cinnamon rolls M had kneaded up the day before. We took our leave of Mom and Don just after lunch, Rex our Sunday blues incarnate, sighing and sulking in the backseat, then curling in a tight wakeful ball on the bed when we got home. We had a nice last dinner with Arienne and called it an early night.

Back to the gym and work for me. Arienne is on the road home. And I'm looking forward to another evening with Felicia later this week, and hopefully more home improvement projects this weekend in the form of prepping for the countertops. If our contractor is still free.

Hope your fourth was good too!