Saturday, June 26, 2010

Of War and Love

I'm back from Santa Clara. It was an extremely successful conference, I'm relieved and pleased to report. We sold out and the attendees were all very satisfied. This doesn't happen very often. I did not have the energy to get to my favorite Indian restaurant while there, but I'm sure my impending trip to Dosa was a factor. I did however manage a shopping excursion with one of my work friends to a mall that has an amazing amount of shops. Who buys all this crap? Wait, I do…One blast from the past--there was a Betsey Johnson store there and it put me in mind of my New York days. She had a seconds rack I used to haunt and was able to afford, my only designer duds while living in that fashion conscious city. I think I still have one of her outfits, though there's no way I'd be able to fit into it these days.


There's a big event happening at our offices this weekend (Foo Camp for all you geeks). People bring sleeping bags and camp in our buildings, so they wall off part of our space so the party-ers can't help themselves to our office chairs and supplies and leave empty vodka bottles in their place. I didn't want to be barricaded inside the office all weekend so I left work early yesterday.

It was lovely being set loose on a workday afternoon in summer. I had some errands to run in downtown Sebastopol so parked and headed to the bank. There's a tradition in that little activist town that started several years ago: on Friday afternoons the Women in Black, women (and some men) opposed to the war, stand silently on the corners of the busiest intersection. They were soon joined by a group of hawks, much louder and in bright "patriotic" plumage. I don't know that they're necessarily pro-war--their message seems to mostly be "support the troops." But don't they want to live in a world where their loved ones don't have to be put in harms way?

When I got to that intersection on my way to the bank, it made me uncomfortable. The WiB were not on the corners for some reason yesterday, so as I waited for the walk signal, I was standing only with the hawks, a group I don't want to be associated with. It's hard for me to be around people expressing what I think is a sad and extreme view so vocally. I glanced over to a woman shaking her oversized cardboard flag-ribbon sign at the traffic. Over her shoulder, I could see that she had taped a small portrait to the back of her placard, of a smiling young woman in a floppy-brimmed fatigue hat. That really made me sad. I appreciate those with military service, but we seem so far away from a time when we won't have to employ armed conflict as a political tactic. My wish for that young woman is for her to be smiling up at her professors or across the counter at her clients, not hiding her fear of being blown up.


Yesterday, our actual anniversary, we didn't do much to celebrate. M had to work a full day. We had dinner at one of M's favorite diners that's started serving dinner and then watched a couple episodes of True Blood while eating trendy cupcakes and locally made ice cream made with strawberries picked just a little ways down the road. I've never paid nearly $10 for a pint of ice cream before. Had to cool my payday fever I guess.

We're off to the City today. We'll have lunch at the de Young Museum then take in the exhibit, followed by dinner at Dosa on our way out of town. A very similar celebration to last year's anniversary. I'm hoping Dosa will live up to my memory of it. I've decided that I don't want to eat at Barndiva again, that swanky and perfect place M and I dined in recently. It was very expensive and I have such high expectations--I'd hate to be let down, which is the only place to go (aren't I an optimist this morning?) and pay that much again.


In other news, M is going back to teaching a two evenings a week. He was so popular and it's something he enjoys doing, so I'm glad for that--and the extra money. Classes are in five-week blocks, so he may just alternate blocks so as not to burn out. So I'll now have quite a few weeknight hours to myself. Maybe it's time to take up writing that novel again.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In Action

Originally uploaded by O'Reilly Conferences
In case you ever what I do at the conferences I go to.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Almost Solstice

So I'm finally sitting down and blogging, yay!

It's Sunday, the second longest day of the year. I love the light and long days. It makes spending long hours in the office easier, coming out to a few hours of sunshine. I know winter makes me appreciate this time of year more, but still, I wish the daylight hours dallied a bit more.

On to catching up before the weekend slips below the horizon…

Mom's Birthday in Tahoe
Four days with family, walking to places where snow still lingered, cooking with my brothers--one of my favorite activities--seeing beautiful vistas, sleeping. So many things adding up to a wonderful vacation. The house where we stayed was up on the slopes away from the busy lakeside roadway, a lovely quiet place with a view of the mountains to the south from the deck, perfect for morning and evening walks.

The first full day there, many of us converged on Emerald Bay and walked down to Vikingsholm, a scenic and strenuous-ish trip. M's mom met us there and we went into South Lake for lunch. We played Texas Hold 'em after dinner as we did most evenings.

The next day, M and I took nephew Ryan over the very scenic mountain pass to Virginia City, a well preserved silver boom-town now bust but for tourists, docents wandering about in period costume, some barely distinguishable from the bikers stomping the boardwalks in their interpretation of a cowboy's vests, chaps, and bandannas. We met M's mom again at the Bucket of Blood saloon, did the requisite sepia-toned portrait, boarded the train for a trip to Gold Hill, and peeked into shops now filled with goods for tourists rather than gold seekers. The town had done a good job preserving the storefronts and some interiors, which I appreciated.

The last full day there--Mom's actual birthday--was the mellowest. We walked to the top of the loop in our neighborhood, contemplated the slope. We heard a dog bark, then saw the source--two dogs running down one of the last swaths of snow, followed by a skier S-ing down the slope. More food and hanging out and TV and card-playing and photos and reading. It was hard to leave the next morning and head back to reality.

My feline companion has been buried beneath a dollop of obsidian for 13 days now. After a week of doing much better on her hyperthyroid medication, she started acting very strangely a couple of Saturdays ago--delirious almost, physically unstable, standing for long periods of time with her head butted up against a wall, crawling under the sofa and behind the file cabinet. We took her to the vet who remarked her strange behavior, but her blood work showed everything to be in order. Perhaps it was a brain tumor. Perhaps feline senility. Perhaps the meds were finally letting what was wrong with her show. But nothing to be done. We wondered: would she be able to eat? Find her litter box? We were in despair, worried that she was in pain, thinking of how to deal with this for any length of time. I came home after work the next day and after a bit of searching finally found her curled in the back of one of my closets, behind a box where I keep my journals and other archival stuff. A fitting place for memories. I pulled out the box and her stomach kept the right angle of the corner where she rested and knew she was gone. I called M and he immediately came home. I felt bad about my squeamishness over her mortal coil, but he was so good of course, letting my cry while he placed her in a pretty pillowcase and dug a hole under the oak tree as far from Pookie and Tom Cat as possible, respecting their animosity even in death. While it's nice not having that litter box smell crowding our atmosphere nor having to book the cat sitter for our travels, it's…alien…not to have a cat around, for the first time in two decades. I still glance guiltily into the craft room regularly. She was a gift to keep me from loneliness and I worry that I left her lonely after all, unable to give her the attention she couldn't demand for herself in the end. I'm glad that she's not suffering but I also miss her, even her plaintive meow.


Of Work, Worth, and "Retirement" (the post I was working on weeks ago…)

A longtime friend and I were talking of late. Mostly via phone, and several times in the last couple of weeks, trying to plan activities together which is unusual for me (the many phone calls part). And I confess that despite our long history of association, she's left me frustrated and…angry. I'm not supposed to feel that way about friends, I know! But in our conversations she kept on about how busy she was, therefore how difficult it was to make the time to get together. Which just made me think that a) I'm at the bottom of her priority list--we all have the same amount of time, right, so if she's doing so many other things, they're all more important and/or b) everything that she's got going on trumps all of my activities. She recently did find time to get together, and that was very nice. Til the end of our visit, when she observed that, "not having kids must be what it's like being retired." Right. And she quickly followed up with "though you do work full time." I know that having kids is very time consuming and 24/7 in a way that the vast majority of jobs, including mine no matter how much I complain and no matter whether or not I'm the breadwinner, simply are not. But talk about a body-blow to any self-esteem I have about how I spend my time. Sigh. Something to work on I suppose.


On a happy note, it's been a stellar weekend. M and I took a beginning drawing class together yesterday, which was very pleasant. We both felt like we learned something and are inspired to learn more. I also appreciated the guidance on trying to observe things as they are, not how I "know" them to be, and how they relate to objects around them. In the evening, we met up with friends and finally made it out to a roller derby bout, watching the North Bay Bruisers trounce the Southern Oregon Rollergirls. All fantasies I had of becoming a jammer evaporated after a minute or two, the time it took for the ladies in the pack to hit the track--again, and hard. The friends we were with just got engaged, and it was fun talking about weddings. I've spent much of the weekend recalling happy wedding memories that took place a mere four years and 51 weeks ago.

I just reserved tickets to see the Birth of Impressionism exhibit at the de Young (which our drawing teacher mentioned during class--maybe we'll have a new perspective on art) with M on Saturday for our formal anniversary celebration and he's on Dosa's website as I type, making dinner reservations for that evening. So much to look forward to!

And this is not related to anything other than my fondness for food, but has anyone else noticed the new trend in serving romaine salads: slicing the heads horizontally into cylinders and dressing the rounds? It's an interesting presentation.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Birthday clan

Birthday clan
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
Yes, I'm behind on the posts. But in the meantime, I've uploaded photos from the Tahoe trip. 36 photos times a thousand words apiece...