Sunday, December 31, 2006

what I saw yesterday

one minute before setting all those bittersweet tears free:

Friday, December 29, 2006

goodbye, california

I've packed everything that can be packed, stuffed both vehicles to bursting and said goodbye to most of the people to whom I needed to say goodbye. I know I'll be hearing from some people about this, however (*cough*Lorelei*cough*). It's been a wild ride, this year in the land of fruits, nuts and flakes (as one of my relatives who lives here refers to the Bay Area). Lots of good, lots of not-so-good, and big heaps of character building, which is always a laugh riot. After tomorrow's 12-hour drive I'll need to change the subtitle of my blog; I'll still be goatless, and hopefully I'll still be optimistic, but that last part will have to go. I covet all your good thoughts, traveling mercies and, most importantly, prayers for our journey and for what lies ahead. Now it's time for me to make like a tree.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

in which we are "enfolded in a giant womb"

A thousand years ago, when I was in grade school, one of the left-brainy girls in my class (left-brainy meaning someone with an Albert Einstein-type brain rather than a Jackson Pollock-type brain) held her birthday party at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. This girl came from a family of Christian Scientists, and her parents used to do other incredibly cool stuff, too, like drive us girls around in their Winnebago - without seat belts! We'd sit around the Formica camp table while cruising down Highway 101 and play Telephone, that game in which you whisper something to the person sitting next to you, and they whisper it to the person next to them and so on until the (now thoroughly mangled) phrase reaches the last person, who has to say it out loud. What might have started out as as "I really like grape juice" comes out of that last person's mouth as "Smelly guy ape shoes," or something like that. Hilarity naturally ensues.

ANYWAY. Hands down and without a doubt, the coolest thing about the Exploratorium (aside from the cow's eye dissections) is the Tactile Dome. You crawl through a curtain into total darkness and have to find your way through an up-down-twisty-turny-climbing-sliding maze of textures, all without the help of any of your five senses except touch. Well, okay, you can hear someone if they're right in front of you or behind you, but the dome is fairly well soundproofed. And you can see just a smidgen when you climb up the rope passageway into the Red Room, where one red light bulb barely illuminates the amply pillowed benches attached to the curved walls. As a kid I thought of the Red Room as a gypsy hideout, and my favorite part was leaving it, because after sliding down once again into pitch blackness you landed in a little room filled with those hollow plastic balls that kids love to burrow down into.

Today, at the invitation of an old friend, I got to visit the Tactile Dome once again, this time with my own grade schooler (who clung to me like a newborn opossum when we stepped through the curtained entrance of the maze into total darkness). I've been meaning to introduce him to this peculiar childhood rite of passage since we moved to the Bay Area a year ago, so it was a relief to know I could scratch it off the To Do list three days before our move back to Arizona. The first thing I noticed was how easily I was transported more than a quarter of a century into the past. The waiting room had changed very little since the late seventies: The shoe cubbies were still there, as was a sign on the wall listing some of the things you should try to find while in the maze: keys and handcuffs; cowboy boots and a rolling pin. The textures and smells inside the maze were the same as I remembered, too: Naugahyde and feet. The second thing I noticed was how much closer I am to being a claustrophobe than I ever thought. Just past the first turn in the maze, where your eyeballs still rove futilely around in their sockets trying to locate any source of guiding light whatsoever, and where the low ceiling forces you to crawl while feeling around on the walls for an unblocked passageway, I started to feel a little panicky thumpa-thumpa in my chest.

I relaxed a little our second time through, and by the third - when the boy was ready to strike out ahead of me - I took the trip slowly and with my eyes closed, pausing often to explore every corner and crevice of whatever room or tunnel I found myself in. This was how I found the keys and the cowboy boots, and even a musical baby toy that wasn't on the waiting room list. Score! I went down the first slide headfirst, curling into a somersault at the bottom, where you land on what feels like a big inflated balloon. I paused in the Red Room to stretch out on the cushy benches like a gypsy, and when it was time to leave that little smidgen of light I took the last slide the way I like to think I entered the world as an infant: trusting and peaceful in the face of uncertainty ahead; brave despite the familiar comfort being left behind. It's the same way I like to imagine myself later this week, when I'll once again leave the place of my birth to return to the home of my heart.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

why I have the greatest husband in the world

Two words: iPod U2.

Hello, Grandmaster Flash. Hello, Roxy Music. Hello, Spice Girls.

Oh, dear. Did I really just type that last one out loud? This cute little shiny black number has already gone to my head.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

life takes icing

Ingredients for gingerbread: $20

Assortment of candies: $10.50

Convincing your husband to stay up with you until 11 pm trying to keep the roof pieces from sliding off so that a bunch of four-to-eight-year-olds can create their masterpieces the next morning: Priceless.

Wishing all of you the merriest Christmas yet!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

sunrise, sunset

My father and I were leaving the mall today, having just committed our afternoon to shopping for the four grandchildren, when we passed Santa Claus in his fenced-off Christmas Land with a screaming toddler on his lap. I smiled at my father, and my father smiled at me. Both of us share a veteran's-eye view of this scene now that my own children are of an age to either a) politely decline to sit on Santa's lap, or b) sit on Santa's lap and politely clarify that it's a Toa Jaller Bionicle (#8727) that he's asking for - not the Toa Hahli (#8728) that he thought he wanted before he saw the Jaller. The passage of time is perhaps at its most bittersweet at this time of year - bitter because we're all getting older, the adults and the children (I feel a Stevie Nicks song coming on) - and sweet because we're all getting older, the adults and the children (I feel a Fiddler on the Roof song coming on). Almost daily I look at my kids and try to imagine their baby faces superimposed on their big kid faces, because there is so much about their baby and toddlerhoods that I miss. Mall screaming is not one of those things, however, and as my father and I passed that Santa scene and gave each other knowing smiles, I was happy to chalk up one point for the "sweet" half of the bittersweet passing of time.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Agnus Dei, Lord have mercy (part 3)

I realize it's taken me three days to blog about the Agnus Dei performance, so I'm going to wrap it up. This wandering focus has been an issue for me in writing fiction as well - this "digression within a digression," as one of my wonderful draft readers noted when reading my latest manuscript. See? I just did it again. Now I'm all set to go off on a fiction-writing tangent.

So, yes, I was a bobblehead. Similar to what Lorelei shared in the comments about her Coppelia performance, my head started to tremble as soon as we took our places on the risers, and it lasted through the entire first song (which was slow, meditative and Gregorian chant-like, making it impossible for me to conceal my bobble head by bouncing a little to the rhythm). I don't know how the soloists do it - how they step out into the spotlight, microphone in hand, knowing that any little warble or off-note will be magnified throughout the sanctuary. I actually thought at one point that I should just walk off the stage because I was probably being such a distraction, and then I thought, "No, that would be obnoxious. If I'm going to look stupid throughout this whole cantata, then so be it. This isn't about me, anyway." Which was when the trembling stopped. Because I was right. This wasn't about me. It was about God's love, and his goodness and mercy toward us. My job was to stop obsessing about how stupid I looked and SING. So I did. And it was awesome.

Afterward, during the dessert reception downstairs, my husband looked surprised when I asked him how bad the shaking looked. "What shaking?" he said. Yeah, right. So I asked our son, the master of brutal honesty (who once told me, after I'd had my morning coffee but hadn't yet brushed my teeth, "Mom, not to be mean or anything, but your breath smells a little like poo."). Now he just looked at me and said, "What shaking?" So, apparently, all my worry was for naught. Apparently, my head doesn't shake as bad as it did in college, when the tremor was visible from several rows back. And the thing is, even if it did, who cares? The next time I'm lucky enough to dress up and sing about the greatest love in the world, I'd better be prepared for my ears to start wiggling spontaneously and my nose hairs to catch fire if need be, because the dressing up and the excitement and the singing won't be about me anyway.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Agnus Dei, Lord have mercy (part 2)

A little background. As an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz I played a bit part in a student-written/directed/performed production called What Women Want (no relation to the Mel Gibson/Helen Hunt joint). I think my character's official title was Chick at Bus Stop, or something like that - a role that involved walking out to the edge of the stage in high heels and short skirt and just standing there in the spotlight until the end of the scene (which involved two guy actors checking out said Chick while Roy Orbison played in the background. This was high art). As I wrote earlier, I'd had a tendency toward stage jitters since my early operetta days, but there was something different about this play. I didn't know just how jittery I was until something new happened: My head started to tremble. This had never happened to me before, so I was wholly unprepared for - and mortified by - it. And of course, the harder I tried to control the shaking, the worse it got. I was like a malnourished Chihuahua in a snowstorm (Yo quiero sedativo.) Now, this wasn't a normal theater where the play was held, but a big dining hall. We had large audiences each night, so the rows of fold-out chairs started only a few feet away from the stage. This meant that one misstep and I'd be sitting in someones lap in the front row. It also meant that I could clearly hear one audience member a few rows back lean toward her friend and whisper, "She's really nervous." Which naturally helped my condition a lot. NOT. It was a horrible, humiliating, out-of-control kind of feeling, and anyone who knows me at all well knows that "out-of-control" isn't really my thing. (I actually considered calling this blog Controlling B*tch at one point, but a) the language didn't seem very honoring to God and b) I figured some people would miss the intended wit.) The trembling returned the next night, and the next, and being ready for it helped not one bit. Fortunately, in the play's third act I got to kiss a cute actor who later went on to work in soap operas, so that helped calm my nerves. After What Women Want wrapped up I discovered that my newfound bobbliheadedness was not limited to the stage. No sirree. During a visit to the dentist for fillings, my head started to wobble so much that the assistant had to hold onto it. Or maybe that was just a nightmare I had. At any rate, I clearly recall saying, "I bet this happens to patients all the time." The assistant just gave me a puzzled look and said, "No." Which naturally helped a lot.

Monday, December 18, 2006

it's monday

and you smell gooooooood.

Agnus Dei, Lord have mercy (part 1)

Agnus Dei means "Lamb of God," and it's also the title of the cantata we sang last night - my first big choir performance ever (not counting the Sunday mornings when we've sung single hymns in our choir robes and then left the stage). We had to get there an hour and a half early for a final light and sound check, and the same thing that makes cars run better when they're clean must apply to choir singers when they're dressed up fancy in matching ties and scarves, because we sounded G.O.O.D. I could see it on the music director's face when we ran through "This is Love," which is basically the message of John 3:16 set to music. He warned us that the danger in doing well in rehearsal was that we'd slack off during the actual performance, so we were under strict orders not to overdo it. Still, we knew. When I looked at my fellow altos their eyes said Oh, yeah. Twenty minutes before show time we stowed our stuff in a back hall closet and I commandeered the utility bathroom, where I shellacked my hair into place and redid lipstick. Then it was downstairs for corporate prayer and I Love Lemon tea for the vocal chords. And I was fine. A little choked up, maybe, knowing that this first big concert was also likely to be my last with this group I'd grown to love and admire over the past few months, but overall just fine. Upstairs in the foyer we arranged ourselves for the entrance, and when it was time to walk down the aisle to the opening oboe notes of "Agnus Dei" I felt fully prepared to give all that I had in glorious, worshipful song. My family was seated smack dab in the front row, and I threw them a jaunty smile as I passed. Who could have foreseen that less than one minute later I'd be a bobble head?

Friday, December 15, 2006

hallo mansion builder!

Our family loves Playmobil stuff. It started with a little Knight and Horse set the boy received as a gift when he was four or five. Then came the slightly larger Viking Tent set (complete with bearskin rug, which makes you wonder a little about those Vikings, considering no lady Vikings were included). Of course, the next logical step was the Pirate Ship, then the Medieval Fortress, and then I hit the mother lode while browsing at the Flagstaff Goodwill: It was an entire Rubbermaid box full of Playmobil stuff including a second Pirate Ship (because no boy should have just one). Tonight, while searching online for replacement parts, I came across this site. Apparently, there's an international contingent of adults out there who customize stock Playmobils as a hobby. While one part of me applauds the creativity and thinks this is really cool, another part of me says, "You can love your Playmobils. Just don't LOVE your Playmobils." If you get my drift. (Check out the English translation of this guy's customized living room friendship scene.)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

a wandering minstrel, I - part 2

So when the opportunity arose to sing with the church choir, I took it. It wasn't like they had auditions or anything, so there would be no one screaming at me that I walked funny (or even sang funny). I'd listened to the choir on a few different Sundays and thought, "Wow, they're pretty good," and then one day took action when the pastor reminded us to talk to the music director if we wanted to sing. Rehearsals were held every Wednesday night, I was told. Here I should mention that church music and I have somewhat of an uneasy relationship. When I first tiptoed around the shocking (for me) idea that I might just want to investigate this whole Christianity thing a bit further, I quickly found that my decision to return to a particular church after the first visit was heavily influenced by the music encountered therein. Piano accompaniment? Fine. Drums and electric guitar? Not in this lifetime. Canned, pre-recorded background music? I was outta there. I don't know where my initial aversion to instrumental worship music originated (since I rarely set foot in church as a child or young adult), but I was the Hymn Nazi: "No further consideration for you!" This wasn't a problem during the years when our family attended a church where the hymns were always sung a cappella for doctrinal reasons. I loved it, especially if there was a strong alto standing somewhere nearby when it was time to sing. The few times we made the long trip to visit my husband's grandparents and attend church with them I nearly swooned at the sound of Grandma's voice - a strong, clear, womanly alto with no hesitation or atonal notes. So, fast forward six years and I'm a non-Baptist in a Baptist choir. And I love it. I love most things about this particular church (which has been welcoming to me from the start and is full of joyful people), but choir takes the cake. The music director is multi-talented, I'm flanked by strong altos on either side, and the sopranos sing the way I imagine angels do. There's even a violinist among us who's recently come out with her own CD. Now I find myself ready to say goodbye to all of them, and it bums me out. Before I do, though, we'll sing the Christmas Cantata together this weekend. It's about the burden of sin and the life ring of grace, sung in melodies that alternate between Gregorian chant and classic carols. I can't think of a more fitting way to say a temporary goodbye to this thing that has been brought unexpectedly back into my life - the joy of voices raised together, all of us practicing this arrangement for months and now here we are...ready to show it to the world.

darlin', you give literature a bad name

As I said in an earlier post, we moved out here right around this time last year, when northern California was under water. Our son's new school opened a week later than it was supposed to after Christmas break (or whatever it's called out here - Religiously Neutral Holiday Vacation?) because of flooding and the subsequent Hazmat removal of simultaneously-discovered asbestos in the classrooms. The local library was another casualty of the floods, and since the town was already in the thick of a budget crisis and cutbacks to "non-essential" departments like the library, the beautiful old historic building was apparently really foundering. So, later in the year local writer Anne Lamott and a friend about whom she writes frequently, the amazing storyteller Neshama Franklin, held a fundraiser. (It was a cool thing to do, and I like A.L.'s writing. So don't think that I really think she gives literature a bad name, okay? I just think my choice of title is clever. Of course it won't be to those of you who weren't hair band fans in the 80's, but I'll just have to take my chances.) Though I tire more easily than I used to of having to endure Lamott's ideological rants in order to read her work, there's still something magnetic about both her prose and her person. For one thing, she's got the dry wit thing down pat. For another, she knows her audience and plays to them with flawless timing. So I suppose the onus is on me to understand that I'm likely to get less literary inspiration and more fawning over Ted Kennedy than I'd like when I read her work or attend her readings. And I'm not trying to pick on Lamott, by the way. My aversion to ideological ranting applies to writers and entertainers no matter what their political stripe. If you can protest in a way that brings something new to the intellectual table, I'm all eyes and ears. But just repeating your hatred for George W. Bush (or John Kerry, or Hillary) in the same way over and over again makes me want to - as Anne Lamott might say - stick a pencil in my neck (no matter how funny some of your other lines are). Now, Jon Bon Jovi bypasses this political proselytization tendency nicely, as my husband and I discovered during his Have a Nice Day tour back in February. There were no politics at the HP Pavilion that night - just tens of thousands of thirty-something rockers with their rocker children (and one enterprising guy in the lobby wearing an "I Love Hot Moms" t-shirt). I didn't even know JBJ was a card-carrying member of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy until I saw a clip of his Oprah spot - and then again on Larry King. Which is fine - have at it when you're on the talk shows. Just remember that when I purchase tickets to your concert, I'm not looking to you for your political views. I'm looking to you to ROCK. ME. OUT. Which he did. And nicely, I might add.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

lucky 100

Today I celebrate the 1 week anniversary of this blog. Heh. Didn't think I'd keep at it this long, did ya, Inner Critic? I notice that my hit counter is at 99 already, which I find pretty darned exciting (it's not new news that I need to get out more). I know I'm not inflating my own stats, since I have a blocking cookie set to prevent my own obsessive visits from doing so. It must be Lorelei.

Monday, December 11, 2006

a wandering minstrel I, part 1

When I was in the seventh grade I got to play a Japanese maiden in my junior high's rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan's brilliant operetta, The Mikado. I remember trilling, "Miya sama, miya sama," and shuffling along with all the other kimonoed maidens. I did not realize then that we were essentially extras - earnestly aspiring thespians deemed less talented than the curly-haired, rosy-cheeked drama teacher's pet who got cast as Yum Yum, the female lead who wins Nanki-Poo's love. (What, me? Bitter?) Well, I suppose I shouldn't assume that all the maidens were deemed less talented. If memory serves, there was only one maiden who essentially stopped rehearsal when the drama teacher, Mr. A., screamed for everyone to hold it, stop the music, and pointed to where I stood. Mr. A: "You!" Me: "Me?" Mr. A: "Yes, you. What's your name?" Me: "N-Nicole." Mr. A: "Do you always walk like that, so pigeon-toed?" Me: "No..." But we had been told to shuffle as if our feet had been bound since birth, and I was doing my best to imagine the agony of that. Apparently, I more closely resembled a duck who'd gotten its legs tangled in one of those plastic six-pack ring thingies. Anyway, once I got the hang of authentic, stunted-foot shuffling, I discovered that I had a real love for drama. In high school I spent three years getting actual academic credit for singing, dancing and monologuing my way through variety show numbers - everything from "Hair" (Good morning, Starshine!) to "A Chorus Line" (Goodbye, Twelve! Goodbye, Thirteen! Hello, Love!) It was great. I was never that girl with the voice or the dance moves (clearly) who, when you saw her on stage, made you think, "Wow. Someday I'll get to say I knew her back when." I had friends who were that girl - still do. But I was the girl who loved to be up there on stage so much that I'd get lightheaded with nervous excitement before the house lights dimmed. I loved being part of a cast that - despite the different rungs of the social ladder we occupied outside of drama class - had worked together for weeks, sometimes months, on a show ...and now here we were, ready to show it to the world! There's nothing quite like being part of a group artistic endeavor, even if the end result is never quite as dazzling as you imagined it could be. I kept it up in college. I took Indonesian dance from a woman who I recently saw featured on a PBS special about Java Gamelan. I studied a little bit of film and a little mask making. I starred as Jesse the suicidal daughter in the ultimate euphoria-killing play, "'Night Mother." When it came time to choose between Writing and Drama as my choice of major, I agonized for a long time before ultimately pledging my allegiance to the English Department. While I've never deeply regretted that decision, I have often wondered what might have happened if I had chosen the life of a performer. I have missed it.

it's monday. let's play...

...hoops & yoyo.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

the miss list, vol. 3 (or, Salome was not a nice person)

We come to number 4 on the list of things I will miss when we move back to northern AZ in a few weeks. 4) Craigslist. "But Craigslist is ubiquitous," you might say. Ah, yes. But have you checked the wealth of listings across the board for the SF Bay Area, and then clicked over to the Flagstaff/Prescott/Sedona area of Arizona? 'Nuff said. Granted, my CL browsing is mainly limited to "Free" (I got a great couch and desk that we'll be hauling back with us); "Pets" (because you never know when someone may need to rehome a goat - not that I could help them out, considering my current living conditions); and occasionally "Artists." Which brings us to 5) the Legion of Honor. Mom and I bought yearly passes when we went to the Monet in Normandy exhibit this summer, mainly because doing so allowed us to bypass the hundreds of people waiting in line for one-day tickets. Recently we went back and took the kids (not something I recommend, unless you are a freakishly mellow person naturally (there is no one around here who fits that description), or are having a high-tolerance-for-aggravation kind of day, which we were). My daughter excused herself from the museum tour early on, preferring to show Abuela how much cooler it is to jump up and down on one of the lobby benches than to stare at a bunch of old paintings of naked people. But the boy. The boy I was able to keep hooked by suggesting that he lead the tour. He headed straight for the Rodin room where he was immediately captivated by the three figures from The Gates of Hell. This room was also full of warriors and struggles and the head of John the Baptist, which naturally elicited a long-winded lecture from me about the story behind said severed head. This was one of those biblical stories I'd heard something about before actually reading the Bible, thanks to the influence of Siouxsie Sioux in my goth-ish days. Long story short, I told the boy, Salome was not a nice person.

Friday, December 08, 2006

they're everywhere

An astute, cat-pampering relative sent me the link to this website (Thanks, Jeanne!). Now I know where our daughter got the idea. Time to set up those parental controls.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

65 years ago today

worth remembering

baby's breath

The first new friend I made when we moved here had a baby last week, and I got to see him a few nights ago when I brought over a new mom casserole. This has become somewhat of a personal tradition for me, and I would have wanted to do it even if one of her MOPS friends hadn't arranged for a whole slew of meals to be delivered to the new parents. Why? Certainly not because my cooking is anything to cheer about, but because I know firsthand what a gift it can be to have a friend bearing food show up at your door at dinnertime on day one, two, three, etc. of having a brand new baby in the house when you're hormonal and emotionally amuck with all the adjustments suddenly required by this tiny new force of nature. I will never forget the grace extended to us by the Flagstaff playgroup moms when our daughter was born. One even drove the 30 miles out to our rural home at night to deliver her homemade soup, salad and bread. And speaking of bread, this is what my friend's brand new son reminded me of Wednesday night - fresh baked, warm and lovely-smelling. Gorgeous like his parents, and clearly ready to give them a run for their money. Boy babies rock (girls, too, of course, but boys have their own special way about them). Sigh. One more thing to add to the miss list.

the miss list, vol. 2

The list continues with... 2) The Y. It took just a few months of living among all the beautiful California hardbodies before the BH and I got motivated to get back into shape. He signed us up for a family membership at the Marin YMCA, which is possibly the best deal to be found on anything here. Where else can you travel back in time to the Marin of the 1970's with a good, old-fashioned-yet-new-agey Yoga class, or sweat with the Spandex set in a heart-pounding, head-banging Step Aerobics class? I've come to love Step, despite the fact that I was so lost during the first class that I looked like a Yeti with three left feet. It didn't help that my uber-talented dancer friend Lorelei was stepping right next to me, throwing in all sorts of fancy moves to jazz up the boring (for her, no doubt) combinations. I have been slacking off, though. Today, I got an email from the Y's FitLinxx system informing me that in November I lifted 45, 760 lbs. (or the equivalent of 5.7 African Elephants - they put the elephant part in the email, which is why I didn't have to google that). Not bad. But then they say that I burned only 1, 292 calories (or 3.5 ice cream sundaes, the equivalent of which I no doubt put away on Thanksgiving alone. Clearly, it's time to Step things up). Okay, back to the list. 3) My family and friends. I should reiterate here, lest they think they're an afterthought following a grocery store and a gym, that this list is arranged in no particular order. It has been beyond awesome to have my peeps so close by. Not only are the kids' cousins a mere half hour away and available for sleepovers, birthday parties, etc., but I've been able to keep up with the daily happenings in folks' lives the way I just can't do from 800 miles away. Of course, now that I'm moving again, it seems like I haven't seen everyone nearly enough, but there you go. More excuses to visit often.

italian stallion

Okay, Ford. Now you're just toying with me. Via a total Avis rental car fluke I got to have an '06 Mustang in my possession for 24 hours a while back while my truck was in the shop. Ze ride. She was zo good.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

the miss list, vol.1

Our family moved out here to Marin right around this time in 2005 with the thought that we'd try it for a year and see where it led. All sorts of dramatic events went into the making of that decision to pull up the roots we'd spent more than a decade planting in northern Arizona, but it really boiled down to needing a new perspective. Since my side of the family lives here and the job market is rich with opportunity for my husband's line of work, the Bay Area was a logical choice. For me, anyway. Now that the year's up and we've decided to head back to our home in AZ, life has taken on that bittersweet mixture of excitement (at the thought of being back among our horses and the prairie and the red dirt roads) and premature nostalgia for the things I know I'll miss when we leave. My Better Half's feelings are slightly less ambivalent on the subject. I believe his exact words the other day were, "The best thing about the Bay Area is the fact that there's no toll on the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge on your way OUT." But that's a post for his own blog, should he decide to start one some day. So, it the spirit of mixed emotions, here is the start of my list of the things I will officially miss about California: 1) Trader Joe's. I know I should have started with family, but I just finished my breakfast of toasted TJ's sliced multi-grain sourdough topped with TJ's margarine and TJ's organic apricot preserves, so my heart is still fresh from the ache of realizing that there is nothing remotely resembling such a breakfast ensemble in Flagstaff. Okay, I admit it. I have sourdough issues. I'm not going to use the word "addiction" here, because I can stop eating sourdough any time I want to. I can. But I have been guilty of sourdough stalking at Trader Joe's. It wasn't my fault. They're supposed to have the freshly-baked baguettes out by 10 a.m., so how was I to know that the delivery truck would break down en route from the bakery and I'd have to wait until 11 a.m. to get my hands on one? What else was there to do in my agitated state but pace the aisles for nearly an hour, checking the bread racks every five minutes or so and stopping random TJ's employees to ask, "Is the bread truck here yet?" Perhaps I have shared too much.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

blowin' through the jasmine in my mind

Earlier this year a friend gave me a copy of The Alchemist by Paul Coelho (does anyone know how to pronounce that name? I've heard it's something like "Coay-sho," but that doesn't seem right). Despite the back cover copy proclaiming this as the kind of literary work that changes not only individuals but entire NATIONS, I'm having a hard time not seeing it as Jonathan Livingston Seagull for the new millenium. Not that I have anything against seagulls, especially Jonathan, who was arguably the most precocious and deep-thinking seagull of his time. He had a lot of pluck. Anyway, the inherent problem for me in reading something reminiscent of JLS is that, only a few pages in, I find myself unable to locate the volume control on the parade of seventies anthems streaming through my brain. Today - ALL day - whether reading The Alchemist or not, it was that Seals & Crofts song "Summer Breeze." You know the one. Come on, sing it with me. Summer breeze...makes me feel fine... Please don't curse me as you're trying to fall asleep tonight.

Monday, December 04, 2006

flying kitties, part 2

We spent the morning at the PCP's office, and in radiology, where the girl was so very brave beneath that enormous, scary bone camera. Later we were summoned to the orthopedic surgeon's office, where Daddy had his own post-op appointment. Turns out she broke her humerus clean through, up at the top near the shoulder, but not so near the shoulder that the break is actually into the growth plate. Because I asked the doctor. Because I am one of those people who has just enough veterinary knowledge to annoy veterinarians, and because as a parent I honestly believe that this knowledge naturally translates to my own species, so imagine how much I annoy people doctors. She doesn't have to wear a cast (because the area is apparently really hard to stabilize), and she doesn't have to have surgery (because the humerus is apparently the most talented bone in the body when it comes to regeneration. (Which begs the question: Why aren't our entire skeletons made out of humerus bone??)). Long story short, she's in a sling, on Tylenol with codeine, and getting spoiled beyond all reason. What's not to love about breaking your arm?

flying kitties

Today began with an important phone call, and with Dora the Explorer, which was playing in the master bedroom. In order to make sure that our four-year-old wasn't going to knock the phone off the hook in there (not an uncommon occurrence) I decided to go and fiddle with it, to move the phone to a safe spot on the nightstand. I don't know what got the child so worked up - the letter from "Santa" found rolled up in the Christmas tree this morning; the fact that big brother was staying home from school because of a cough suspiciously reminiscent of a seal/bloodhound hybrid; or both of those combined with the fact that Daddy was getting to stay home from work another day because of the recent rotator cuff surgery. Whatever it was, she was AMPED. As soon as I started messing with the phone with my back turned, she was up on the bed: Bouncing once! Bouncing twice! Bouncing...(THUD/CRACK)... "AAAAIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" It's a sound I've only heard from her one other time, when she was two and tried to climb out of her crib but failed because of the blanket twined around her feet. That incident left her in a wrist cast for several weeks. So I knew something was broken even before I lunged the two or three steps to where she was lying on the floor. Poor kid. When the doctor asked her what happened, she said simply, "I was playing Flying Kitties."