Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Koho’s Big Adventure

Copy of Picture 016For New Year’s this year I will be celebrating out of town. My usual “dogsitter” friends are also going out of town so Sheila, a good friend of my family, who has kind of adopted me when my mom is in Hawaii agreed to help me out. I asked her if she would come by my house and check on Koho a couple of the days I was gone. Not wanting to impose, I told her that I would leave Koho in the garage/side yard so she could be warm inside the garage, but still have access to the backyard. I would leave her a big bowl of food and water. Sheila said she was happy to help out, but wanted me to bring Koho to stay at her place. As many times as I said I didn’t want to impose, she insisted that Koho come spend the few days with her.

Sheila wanted me to bring Koho over before hand in order to meet her dog Cain and just to be sure they got along before I left her for a long period of time. This evening I had dinner plans in her neighborhood so I brought Koho over before heading out to dinner for a couple of hours.

The initial dog meeting was uneventful. They sniffed each others’ butts while wagging their tails. Cain followed Koho around the house while she explored her new surroundings. Before I left for dinner, Sheila and I went into her kitchen to see her new cupboards. While we talked, the dogs wandered around getting to know each other. However, after a few moments I looked over and Koho was starting to poop in the family room. How mortifying, right? I quickly ushered her outside into the dark backyard. She ran around the pool to the back corner of the yard to finish her business. Then she made a 180 turn, walked about 2 steps, and fell right into the swimming pool as I yelled, “No, no, no!” I watched her sink down to the bottom and then bounce back up. Rather than swim to the side she was next to, she swam the length of the pool to the other side, put her front paws on the side, and waited for me to pull her out.

At this point, I was still recovering from the pooping and now reeling from the unexpected swim. My dog is like 100 years old and, although it is not as cold as it is in other places, the water was probably only about 40 degrees. I’m surprise that she didn’t have a heart attack right there. But, we got her dried off and back in the house with the fireplace. Sheila told me to go and they would be fine. I headed to dinner, telling her to call if there were anymore incidents.

Thankfully, no phone calls during dinner, and I returned to pick her up about 2 hours later. When Sheila let me in Cain was right by her side. She said that everything went fine. She said she would go upstairs and get Koho. Why you ask? Because Koho decided that she needed to sleep on Sheila’s bed. I grabbed her leash and walked upstairs. When I got into the bedroom Sheila was sitting on the bed petting my dog, while her dog sat on the floor. What a brat!

I brought Koho home after making arrangements to bring her back before I go out of town. Can you believe that she is even welcome back? I can’t. Koho is a very, very tired dog tonight.
New Camera 042

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Just A Little Something

This time of year, we are inundated with advertisements for cars given as Christmas presents.  Not just any ole' cars either.  No, they are usually luxury cars like Mercedes, BMW, or Infinity. 

I’m just curious, who here has ever received a new car as a Christmas gift?  With a big red bow on top?  I don’t know anyone who has, so I am interested if this is something that actually happens in real life or if it’s just a car companies’ way of making us feel bad for the gift cards, house wares, and other trinkets we buy for our loved ones this time of year.   

I’m almost positive it’s the latter, but if you’ve ever received a new car for Christmas or Hanukkah, tell us about it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

6-8 Black Men, pt. 2

This is the continuation of David Sedaris’s column about Christmas in the Netherlands. Part one is here

The six to eight black men were characterized as personal slaves until the mid-fifties, when the political climate changed and it was decided that instead of being slaves they were just good friends. I think history has proven that something usually comes between slavery and friendship, a period of time marked not by cookies and quiet times beside the fire but by bloodshed and mutual hostility. They have such violence in Holland, but rather than duking it out among themselves, Santa and his former slaves decided to take it out on the public. In the early years, if a child was naughty, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men would beat him with what Oscar described as "the small branch of a tree."

"A switch?"

"Yes," he said. "That's it. They'd kick him and beat him with a switch. Then, if the youngster was really bad, they'd put him in a sack and take him back to Spain."

"Saint Nicholas would kick you?"

"Well, not anymore," Oscar said. "Now he just pretends to kick you."

"And the six to eight black men?"

"Them, too."

He considered this to be progressive, but in a way I think it's almost more perverse than the original punishment. "I'm going to hurt you, but not really." How many times have we fallen for that line? The fake slap invariably makes contact, adding the elements of shock and betrayal to what had previously been plain, old-fashioned fear. What kind of Santa spends his time pretending to kick people before stuffing them into a canvas sack? Then, of course, you've got the six to eight former slaves who could potentially go off at any moment. This, I think, is the greatest difference between us and the Dutch. While a certain segment of our population might be perfectly happy with the arrangement, if you told the average white American that six to eight nameless black men would be sneaking into his house in the middle of the night, he would barricade the doors and arm himself with whatever he could get his hands on.

"Six to eight, did you say?"

In the years before central heating, Dutch children would leave their shoes by the fireplace, the promise being that unless they planned to beat you, kick you, or stuff you into a sack, Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men would fill your clogs with presents. Aside from the threats of violence and kidnapping, it's not much different from hanging your stockings from the mantel. Now that so few people have a working fireplace, Dutch children are instructed to leave their shoes beside the radiator, furnace, or space heater. Saint Nicholas and the six to eight black men arrive on horses, which jump from the yard onto the roof. At this point, I guess, they either jump back down and use the door, or they stay put and vaporize through the pipes and electrical wires. Oscar wasn't too clear about the particulars, but, really, who can blame him? We have the same problem with our Santa. He's supposed to use the chimney, but if you don't have one, he still manages to come through. It's best not to think about it too hard.

While eight flying reindeer are a hard pill to swallow, our Christmas story remains relatively simple. Santa lives with his wife in a remote polar village and spends one night a year traveling around the world. If you're bad, he leaves you coal. If you're good and live in America, he'll give you just about anything you want. We tell our children to be good and send them off to bed, where they lie awake, anticipating their great bounty. A Dutch parent has a decidedly hairier story to relate, telling his children, "Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things together before you go to bed. The former bishop from Turkey will be coming along with six to eight black men. They might put some candy in your shoes, they might stuff you in a sack and take you to Spain, or they might just pretend to kick you. We don't know for sure, but we want you to be prepared."

This is the reward for living in Holland. As a child you get to hear this story, and as an adult you get to turn around and repeat it. As an added bonus, the government has thrown in legalized drugs and prostitution--so what's not to love about being Dutch?

Oscar finished his story just as we arrived at the station. He was a polite and interesting guy--very good company--but when he offered to wait until my train arrived, I begged off, saying I had some calls to make. Sitting alone in the vast terminal, surrounded by other polite, seemingly interesting Dutch people, I couldn't help but feel second-rate. Yes, it was a small country, but it had six to eight black men and a really good bedtime story. Being a fairly competitive person, I felt jealous, then bitter, and was edging toward hostile when I remembered the blind hunter tramping off into the Michigan forest. He might bag a deer, or he might happily shoot his sighted companion in the stomach. He may find his way back to the car, or he may wander around for a week or two before stumbling through your front door. We don't know for sure, but in pinning that license to his chest, he inspires the sort of narrative that ultimately makes me proud to be an American.

A heartwarming tale of Christmas in a foreign land where, if you've been naughty, SAINT NICK and his friends give you an ass-whuppin'

Unlike our Santa, SAINT NICHOLAS is painfully thin, dresses like the pope, and tops off his robes with a tall hat resembling a tea cozy.

In addition to a great Christmas story, THE DUTCH have thrown in legalized drugs and prostitution. What's not to love about that?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

6-8 Black Men, pt. 1

I’m taking the easy way out for the next couple of posts, but I think you will enjoy it.

David Sedaris is a humorist and I first read this column in one of his books“Dress Your Family in Denim and Corduroy” a few years back. It is a great Christmas time story and I’m going to loosely link it to Writer’s Workshop because my motto is
From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.
and this is REALLY funny. (I know, I’m sorry for the lame link to WW, but that’s all I’ve got). Enjoy!

6 to 8 Black Men, pt. 1, by David Sedaris
I’ve never been much for guidebooks, so when trying to get my bearings in a strange American city, I normally start by asking the cabdriver or hotel clerk some silly question regarding the latest census figures. I say silly because I don't really care how many people live in Olympia, Washington, or Columbus, Ohio. They're nice enough places, but the numbers mean nothing to me. My second question might have to do with average annual rainfall, which, again, doesn't tell me anything about the people who have chosen to call this place home.

What really interests me are the local gun laws. Can I carry a concealed weapon, and if so, under what circumstances? What's the waiting period for a Tommy gun? Could I buy a Glock 17 if I were recently divorced or fired from my job? I've learned from experience that it's best to lead into this subject as delicately as possible, especially if you and the local citizen are alone and enclosed in a relatively small space. Bide your time, though, and you can walk away with some excellent stories. I've heard, for example, that the blind can legally hunt in both Texas and Michigan. They must be accompanied by a sighted companion, but still, it seems a bit risky. You wouldn't want a blind person driving a car or piloting a plane, so why hand him a rifle? What sense does that make? I ask about guns not because I want one of my own but because the answers vary so widely from state to state. In a country that's become so homogenous, I'm reassured by these last touches of regionalism.

Guns aren't really an issue in Europe, so when I'm traveling abroad, my first question usually relates to barnyard animals. "What do your roosters say?" is a good icebreaker, as every country has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, where dogs bark "vow vow" and both the frog and the duck say "quack," the rooster greets the dawn with a hearty "kik-a-ricki." Greek roosters crow "kiri-a-kee," and in France they scream "coco-rico," which sounds like one of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label. When told that an American rooster says "cock-a-doodle-doo," my hosts look at me with disbelief and pity.

"When do you open your Christmas presents?" is another good conversation starter, as it explains a lot about national character. People who traditionally open gifts on Christmas Eve seem a bit more pious and family oriented than those who wait until Christmas morning. They go to mass, open presents, eat a late meal, return to church the following morning, and devote the rest of the day to eating another big meal. Gifts are generally reserved for children, and the parents tend not to go overboard. It's nothing I'd want for myself, but I suppose it's fine for those who prefer food and family to things of real value.

In France and Germany, gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, while in Holland the children receive presents on December 5, in celebration of Saint Nicholas Day. It sounded sort of quaint until I spoke to a man named Oscar, who filled me in on a few of the details as we walked from my hotel to the Amsterdam train station.

Unlike the jolly, obese American Santa, Saint Nicholas is painfully thin and dresses not unlike the pope, topping his robes with a tall hat resembling an embroidered tea cozy. The outfit, I was told, is a carryover from his former career, when he served as a bishop in Turkey.

One doesn't want to be too much of a cultural chauvinist, but this seemed completely wrong to me. For starters, Santa didn't use to do anything. He's not retired, and, more important, he has nothing to do with Turkey. The climate's all wrong, and people wouldn't appreciate him. When asked how he got from Turkey to the North Pole, Oscar told me with complete conviction that Saint Nicholas currently resides in Spain, which again is simply not true. While he could probably live wherever he wanted, Santa chose the North Pole specifically because it is harsh and isolated. No one can spy on him, and he doesn't have to worry about people coming to the door. Anyone can come to the door in Spain, and in that outfit, he'd most certainly be recognized. On top of that, aside from a few pleasantries, Santa doesn't speak Spanish. He knows enough to get by, but he's not fluent, and he certainly doesn't eat tapas.

While our Santa flies on a sled, Saint Nicholas arrives by boat and then transfers to a white horse. The event is televised, and great crowds gather at the waterfront to greet him. I'm not sure if there's a set date, but he generally docks in late November and spends a few weeks hanging out and asking people what they want.

"Is it just him alone?" I asked. "Or does he come with some backup?"

Oscar's English was close to perfect, but he seemed thrown by a term normally reserved for police reinforcement.

"Helpers," I said. "Does he have any elves?"

Maybe I'm just overly sensitive, but I couldn't help but feel personally insulted when Oscar denounced the very idea as grotesque and unrealistic. "Elves," he said. "They're just so silly."

The words silly and unrealistic were redefined when I learned that Saint Nicholas travels with what was consistently described as "six to eight black men." I asked several Dutch people to narrow it down, but none of them could give me an exact number. It was always "six to eight," which seems strange, seeing as they've had hundreds of years to get a decent count….

To Be Continued…Check Back on Thursday for the Conclusion (it’s so worth it)!


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday Blues

Sundays are always depressing to me.  I’ve written of this before.  I like to work and most of the time I like my work, but on Sundays I feel this overwhelming dread that I have to start a new work week.  Really the dread is thinking about all the things that I don’t like about starting a new week – the early morning alarm, packing my lunch, forcing myself to go to bed early so I can function during that early morning, etc. 

Once the week starts, that “Sunday feeling” dissipates and I’m fine.  Forget the Monday blues, I’ve got the Sunday blues.

Most Sundays I don’t leave the house.  I might do some chores, catch up on my favorite shows, or do something creative like make cards, or paint, or draw.  Nothing too time consuming though because I don’t want my last day of weekend to end too quickly.  Maybe that’s why they are depressing.  Maybe I need to make Sunday plans rather than avoid them. 

What do you do on Sundays?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Perfect Gift

For writer’s workshop this week, the topic was to write about my top five “must have” gifts that I am buying for loved ones.

I’ll be honest with you, I am such a uncreative gift giver. Since graduating from college and becoming an adult, I find it really hard to pick out gifts for others. Unlike kids, adults don’t usually ask for specific gifts. If they want something they buy it. At least that’s my take on it. Therefore I never know what to buy people. Do I get something they need? That’s not always very exciting. Do I get something I like? But they might not like it.

So what’s my “must have” gift?


A gift card!

Some might think they are impersonal, but I don’t think so. I love to get gift cards. So I just assume that others do too. Every so often I find something that seems like a neat gift, but then I worry that it’s not enough so I end up adding a gift card to it anyways.

Do you like to receive gift cards? What is the “must have” gift you are giving this year?


Monday, November 30, 2009


Raise your hand if you’ve ever eaten a cookie with the little silver balls like this one…


OK, now raise your hand if you’ve ever died from eating a cookie with the little silver balls on it? Anyone?

Apparently, here in California, dying because of eating these edible decorations is a concern.

Growing up (in CA) we decorated our cookies and cakes using dragées (the fancy French word for the silver balls). They were my favorite part of decorating.

I will be attending a cookie swap party in a couple of weeks so this afternoon I dug out my sugar cookie recipe and thought about what shapes and decorations I would use for this batch. Since the cookie party sounds fancy I thought it would be fun to add some dragées to dress up the cookies a bit.

I found bottles of them for sale online but every site stated that they would not ship to California. After further research I found that there was a lawsuit filed in CA about 6 years ago to stop the sale of these little silver balls for “the public good”. Ironically, there has never been a death linked to the little silver balls. The other 49 states still sell them as “decoration only” while in Europe they are classified as a “food item”. Certainly most of Europe is healthier than we are so my question is…Are you kidding me? So millions and millions of cigarette-related deaths without a ban on sales vs. zero dragée deaths with a ban on sales. Yah, that makes perfect sense to me.

So here is my dilemma…I could order them and have them sent to a friend out of state or have a friend purchase them and send them to me, but I would essentially be breaking the law. I even went on ebay thinking that individual sellers wouldn’t worry about this kind of thing, but I was wrong. This statement even accompanied one of the dragée listings
If you buy these dragees and have a California address we'll file a dispute for malicious buying

Wow! That’s hard core. Even if I was able to get a hold of some of this contraband, I am a little bit worried about the other cookie party goers. Would one of them call the cops on me? Would I be charged with intent to distribute an illegal substance?

I wanted to make my cookies pretty, but whatever, that’s not really the point anymore. I’m so appalled that, in California’s current state of dysfunction, this would even be an issue. Talk about not making sense!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Want Leftovers!

For Thanksgiving this year, my family celebrated earlier in the week. About 7 members traveled to Egypt on Thanksgiving day so in order to be together we planned our delicious turkey meal before they left.

When celebrating at someone else’s house, leftovers can be iffy. Usually I end up with a couple of small, Ziploc baggies to take home with me. No matter how small, I REALLY enjoy that turkey sandwich the next day.

This year however, the host (my cousin) was one of the travelers leaving for 2 weeks and therefore didn’t prepare a butt-load of food as is usually prepared. After everyone ate “Thanksgiving” dinner, there was hardly anything left. So, unfortunately, that meant no leftover turkey sandwich for me! How selfish of them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving has arrived,
A time to be thankful,
With turkey and gravy,
And don’t forget the mashed potatoes.

There are many things to be thankful for,
Like family, friends, and regular pay,
But most of all I’m thankful
To not participate in “Black Friday”.

Tons of deals and specials
At Target, Walmart, and Kohls too
Beginning at 5am, 4am, 3am!
Get out of town! How can that be true?

I’ll be spending my last day of vacation,
Because Monday’s so close I dread,
Sleeping in until noon,
Being crowd free, and shopping online instead.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 23, 2009

A Car Named Jimmy

A friend of mine left for a visit to the East Coast this weekend, which got me thinking about my own time living on the other side of the country.

I lived in New England for 8 years – 4 during college and 4 more afterwards. I loved living back East, even in the winter. In fact, the fall and winter were my favorite seasons back there. However, being a SoCal girl, I wasn’t very good a driving in the winter. Since I lived in the “sea coast” area, our winters were not terribly snowy like they are more inland, but they did get very icy. Driving in the ice scared me. My reliable Honda was great, but I wanted something made for that kind of weather. So over time I saved my money in order to buy a “new to me” car.

My dad came out to visit one fall and he took me to buy my first car. (On a side note, my dad was useless at the dealership; not a good wheeler-dealer at all, but that’s another story.) I did however end up with my Jimmy. (Which could be one of the reasons why my dad was not so into this car buying thing being a Ford man and all).


I loved this “new to me” car very, very much. It was so pretty, I sat up much higher than the Honda, and it had 4-wheel drive which I was hoping would help me out in the winter.

Winter came slowly, but when it finally arrived I felt I was ready to face it in my new car. One evening after work it was put to the test. I was devastated though as I drove home and slipped and slid around on the snowy road more than I ever had in my Honda. I was so worried that I got myself into debt for a car that didn’t really work in the snow. I was even more worried about having to to tell my dad that my non-Ford wasn’t working out so well.

My job at the time paid just pennies, so a few nights a week I also bartended. I had regular customers that I got to know well and after the first snow the guys wanted to know how my car faired. I told them my story about the slipping and sliding. This was the gist of the conversation…
Me: It was scarier than it ever was in my Honda. I thought the 4-wheel drive was supposed to make it better.
The guys: That is strange. The 4-wheel drive should be better than the little car. How do you put it into 4-wheel drive? Is there a button or something.
Me: There are some buttons, one that says 4-wheel high and one that says 4-wheel low.
The guys: Which one did you push?
Me: I didn’t push any of them.
The guys: (Laughter)

You see, the Jimmy was in rear-wheel drive all the time unless I put it into 4-wheel drive, pushing one of the buttons. Of course, rear-wheel drive is much worse than front wheel drive in winter weather. Seriously, how was I supposed to know that being from SoCal. Once they showed me how to work it, my car worked like a dream in the snow.

I miss that car. (More Jimmy stories to come.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts Big

  • As if President Obama didn’t already have enough criticism, he had go and bow in respect to Japan’s leader. Stupid, stupid man. Certainly this IS the most important thing that is going on in the world. I’m so glad the news is focused on this issue.
  • This week is taking FOREVER! I always think the week before a vacation will be great…the end is in sight. However, every time it seems as if the week goes on and on.
  • The weather is finally cooling off here in SoCal, thank goodness! It is starting to feel like fall. In fact I got to wear a pair of my new boots just this week.
  • Speaking of new boots, Grandma J asked for pictures of my newly purchased Zappos boots.

    boots3 boots2


  • I’m happy that the weather is changing not only so I can wear my new boots, but also because I plan on decorating my house for Christmas during my Thanksgiving week off. It was going to be really hard to decorate for Christmas when it was 90 degrees outside.

Friday, November 13, 2009

As Fancy As Proust

Back in the day, questionnaires like this one were popular party games. Proust himself participated in this “game” on two separate occasions and his answers were eventually published in Andre Maurois's Proust: Portrait of a Genius. Vanity Fair magazine uses it as it’s monthly interview questions. Faiqa recently published her answers and I’m copying her – her post, not her answers.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
No worries
What is your greatest fear?
Being without any family.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Impatience AND Judgmental
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Being inconsiderate of others AND laziness/apathy
Which living person do you most admire?
I’m never able to answer this question. I don’t know. There are different qualities that I admire in different individuals and qualities that I don’t admire in those same individuals. There isn’t any one person who I look up to as the person I want to be. I think that’s a good thing.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My housekeeper
What is your current state of mind?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I don’t know. I think you can make a pretty strong case for most of them.
On what occasion do you lie?
As much as possible Some white lies that might help me or someone else, but that never hurt others (at least I don’t think I do)
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
The shorter answer would be to “What do you like about your appearance?”
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Considerate/Sense of Humor
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Considerate/Sense of Humor
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
”Ya know”, “Oh My God!”, “Are you serious?”, “I know!”
Which talent would you most like to have?
musical, languages
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
My dog – she has such a good life
Where would you most like to live?
Looking at water
What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t think I have one.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Going through escrow
What is your favorite occupation?
I don’t know if this means my favorite of my occupations or just any occupation…I’ve been reading a book about Frank Lloyd Wright and I think architecture seems pretty neat – merging of art and science. I’d also have to say a job where international travel is required.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Hard working
What do you most value in your friends?
fun and reliability
Who are your favorite writers?
Marian Keyes, Roddy Doyle, Nick Hornby
Who is your hero of fiction?
Liesel Meminger – The Book Thief
What is it that you most dislike?
Mayo and being photographed
What is your greatest regret?
That I didn’t live out of the country before I had responsibilities like a job and a mortgage
How would you like to die?
In my sleep – fine one day, dead the next
What is your motto?
From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere. - Dr. Seuss

I tag everyone to play along!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Writer’s Workshop #9 – Just Punishment

My parents were pretty strong disciplinarians when I was growing up. Both were teachers and they had high expectations of my behavior. Overall I was a good kid. Sometimes however, this might come to you as a surprise for those of you who know me in real life, I could have an “attitude”. That was my biggest behavior problem. Being the only child, I spent most of my childhood with my parents. In the tweens and teen years, they drove me nuts. Add in some hormones and that was quite a mix.

I know I was a brat and I don’t wish a teenage daughter like me on anyone. One of my mom’s favorite stories to tell about this period of time starts out with me and my room. I was messy. Never gross messy – I didn’t leave dirty dishes or food in my room – but I left clothes everywhere. This drove my mom crazy and her craziness drove my dad crazy.

After one particularly heated discussion about my messy room where “It’s my room and I should be able to keep it the way I want it!” and “I can’t believe you!” were screamed for the millionth time my dad got so mad and marched upstairs to take care of the situation.

Some background information…In the house we lived in at the time my room was one of two rooms that faced the street. Both of these rooms had a sliding glass door out to a balcony which looked over the front yard and driveway.

My dad came into my room as my mom and I were fighting about my piles. He opened up my sliding glass door, scooped up an armful of clothes, walked out to the balcony, and flung them over the side. At first I gasped and then the drama kicked in and I started crying, “Stop it!” Instead, he picked up another armful and threw those over as well.

There were clothes everywhere! Hanging off the balcony, from tree branches, in the planter boxes, draped over rocks, and strewn over the driveway and grass. I don’t know what I was more mortified about at the time – him throwing my clothes or what the neighbors thought. I ran downstairs and tried to scoop them up as quickly as possible. It was so embarrassing.

That incident took care of the messy room issue for a little while. When it reared it’s ugly head again, my mom finally compromised. As long as I kept my door closed and did my own laundry, she agreed not to hound me about my room. Not sure if that was the result my dad had in mind, but at least the arguments about it stopped after that.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts Big
  • I don’t like Sundays.  I don’t think I ever have or ever will.  By choice, I don’t do anything on Sundays.  I prefer to stay in my jammies, catch up on my recorded shows, and hope the day doesn’t go by too fast.  However, since my dad died, Sunday is the day that I usually miss him the most.  Probably because I’m not preoccupied with work, or errands, or whatever else I am doing. 
  • I had another back incident last night.  I have had one every week or so for the last couple of months.  I think they are lower back spasms of some kind but they make me feel sick to my stomach as well.  They seem to start right around the time I’m going to bed and then I spend about 2-3 hours writhing around in pain.  I thought I had narrowed it down to days when I sat down too much, but yesterday I didn’t do much sitting around at all.  So now I’m perplexed. 
  • I am so looking forward to my week of vacation for Thanksgiving.  My class is FINALLY starting to settle down and we’re getting things done, but it was a painful and tiring process getting there.  They wore me out and I need a break.
  •   I met up with another high school friend who I reconnected with through facebook.  We met for coffee this weekend and it was a lot of fun to catch up.  I’ve given FB a bad time, but I have to admit that even though it was a bit overwhelming at first, I’m starting to settle in with it.
  • Have you shopped on Zappos.com yet?  OMG!  It is shoe heaven.  Over the last couple of weeks I have been on a mission to find a cute pair or boots that fit well.  That’s how I discovered Zappos.  You can order as many pairs as you want with free shipping, try them on, wear them until you know if they work or not, and then send them back with free return shipping.  I did that a few weeks back and found a great pair of boots in brown.  I then wanted a pair in black so I ordered some more with the same free shipping.  However I got an email right afterwards stating that since I was such a good customer they were upgrading me to overnight shipping, for free!  Like I said, Heaven!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Gross Story Which Really Wasn’t

Copy of Picture 016This is my dog Koho. She’s the coolest dog in the world.

This story actually began last Wednesday when I spent most of the day sitting down from about 8 am until about 7 PM as I was out at meetings for most of the day and was not teaching. Since I am turning into an elderly person, that night I had the worst back ache and couldn’t fall asleep until very early the next morning. Which meant that I was exhausted on Thursday. Just remember that as you read the rest of the story.

Thursday night I crashed into bed and was out like a light before my head hit the pillow. I was so tired. In the middle of the night I was awaken by my dog coughing on the bed next to me. I sat up because it kind of sounded like she was actually vomiting. In my exhaustion I looked over in the dark, just lit by the streets light outside, and found that she actually had puked white nastiness on the bed, about a foot away from where I was sleeping. I have to admit that in my sleep deprivation I seriously contemplated letting her and the puke stay there because I was so tired. But a clearer head prevailed, and I got out of bed and shooed Koho off as well. Luckily, my comforter has a duvet cover on it so, with my eyes closed, I unbuttoned the cover, rolled it up, dumped it on the bathroom floor, vowing to take care of it in the morning. I got back into bed and fell back to sleep.

The next morning, still feeling slightly annoyed that my sleep had been interrupted. I got ready for work and then carried the soiled comforter cover down to the garage. I opened it up to see if I needed to remove any undigested food (I know, gross) before throwing it in the washing machine. As I did, I had a hard time finding where it was. I looked and turned it and looked again and again. There wasn’t any sign of the puke?!?! I washed it anyways and left for work.

That night when I went to bed, I realize that Koho had actually just been coughing. As the light from outside shown into my dark bedroom, the pattern of my bedding shown brightly.
2623889208_f0e1f20176_o I realized that the white of the pattern was what looked like dog puke to me in the middle of the night. I was relieved to know that I hadn’t really contemplated sleeping next to dog vomit.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Your Mayonnaise Questions Answered

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my mayo issues. Some of you had questions about this issue. I wanted to take a moment to answer those…

Hula Hank wondered if I should have “mayo submersion therapy”. To that, I say “Blech!”

Teacher Tom asked, “Do you like Miracle Whip? Tartar Sauce? Ranch? Or does your dislike apply to all creamy condiments?” To me Miracle Whip and Mayo are the same thing, so that’s a no to miracle whip. I do not like Tartar Sauce or Ranch dressing. Neither have the effect on me like mayo, but they are still pretty gross. White condiments are a bit of a problem for me except for one…blue cheese dressing. I love that stuff.

g asked, “Have you ever tried REAL homemade mayo? You could call it something else. Or is that even grosser?” Yah, that’s pretty gross. I know it’s just eggs and oil, but, ugh, even thinking about making my own mayo made me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

Kelly wondered about “mustard!?!?” I can do honey mustard sometimes. I don’t like regular yellow mustard. I’m a ketchup girl.

If you like mayo, you don’t know the problems that I encounter at catered lunches (which I often attend at school functions). I always find myself asking this question in a whiney voice, “Why can’t they just leave the mayo off the sandwiches. You can always add it, but you can’t take it off.” And then I pout. Sometimes these lunches are like a mayonnaise party. I don’t like those kind of parties.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Writer’s Workshop #8 – Halloween

This week’s WW topics are all about Halloween. If Mama Kat was going to grade this post, I would be marked down because it’s not really on any of her topics, but it is about Halloween costumes.

My costumes, throughout the years, haven’t been anything too exciting. I don’t even remember all of them. I think once I was a kitty cat, and then there were several years of those plastic costumes with the mask secured with a rubber band. Most of the time the rubber band broke before even getting the chance to trick-or-treat.

Then there were the high school years. I was so very original when I dressed as a baby four years in a row. Sweats, hair in pig tails, and a bottle with my favorite beverage, why not four years in a row?

College wasn’t much different. I wasn’t a baby, but a Kings’ fan for those four years. I wore my Kelly Hrudey jersey, my Kings’ hat, a pair of jeans, and wrote on my face. How easy was that?

College 01

Today my team and I were talking about dressing up for school on Friday. Ideas were thrown around like pirates or witches, and then I said, “Let’s dress as something so we can wear our pajamas to school.” They loved it. We’re going to go as tired teachers! Flannel PJs, messy hair, and slippers; what a nice way to dress on a Friday.

So, no, I’m not very creative with my Halloween costumes, but I sure am comfortable.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Random Thoughts

Random Thoughts Big

  • In celebration of a friend's birthday a group of about 10 of us climbed into a limo for a night filled with drinking pink martinis and singing our hearts out. We had a good time last night, but today I’m feeling it. I spent the morning with “pink” sloshing around in my belly and the rest of the day with a sore neck from crazy dancing. When did I get so old?
  • This past January I signed up for facebook with the urging of my friend Jill. The whole thought of it “weirded” me out a little bit. Everyone said how great it was to hook up with people from the past that you’ve lost touch with, but the few people that I was hoping to reconnect with weren’t signed up. That was until recently. A couple of months ago, one of my very dear friends growing up who I had lost touch with, due to moving cross country and out of the country and parents moving away from our points of contact, became a facebook member. Shawna and I reconnected on Facebook and she’s living in the Los Angeles area. We met up for lunch this afternoon and had a great time catching up. I still go back and forth on the whole facebook thing, but I’m so happy that we have become friends again.
  • I am so addicted to my new Victoria’s Secret bras. When they came out a few months ago I bought 4 of them. Just this week they came out with new winter colors! They are so pretty. I just bought 5 more. I love them!
  • I’m hoping that my crazy, crazy, crazy class is starting to come together. Last Thursday and Friday were the first two days since the school year started that I didn’t want to throw one (or more) of them over my classroom’s 2nd story balcony. Two whole days in a row – that is progress.
  • The new season of So You Think You Can Dance starts this week. I'm so excited! It's one of my favorite shows.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Writer’s Workshop #7 – Poetry

This is a poem I wrote a few years back shortly after my dad died. It’s “me” in a nut shell.

Random Autobiography

I was born in September.
I always hated that!
Always the youngest, the last to be 16, 18 and 21.
With blonde hair and blue eyes I’ve been told I look like my Dad by some and my mom by others.

Wanting to keep me safe on a weekend camping trip my parents tied two inner tubes together and set me inside. By Sunday morning I knew how to walk. I learned to ride horses shortly after.

Spending hours at the barn taking care of my horse, never wanting to go home. I slammed my finger in the front door while running outside to show my Dad how I could ride my bike and I broke my left arm in two places roller skating backwards at the Skatin’ Place. But I never injured myself riding horses.

My family has driven to Arkansas, twice, on family vacations and I have stood in both Texas and Arkansas at the same time. I think that is where I learned the art of eye rolling.

We went to the Grand Canyon and after looking over the edge, we turned around and left after hearing the news that the Colorado River was flooding. I’ve shoveled sand into sandbags to keep it from flooding a friend’s home.

As a 4th grader, I watched my teacher have a nervous breakdown over a bad boy who I thought was cute (which, turns out, is a pattern for me) and nearly had a nervous breakdown of my own when my Dad was my math teacher in 6th grade. I watched the Challenger blow apart in mid air on television in junior high science class and baby mice being born in 10th grade biology.

At 17, I moved from California to the New Hampshire seacoast to attend college and ended up staying on the East Coast until I was 25; also living in Providence and Boston.

My car was buried for a week under 4 feet of snow in an April Fool’s Day storm.

And I have sat in obstructed view seats watching the Bruins at the “real” Boston Garden – totally worth it.

I’ve eaten the best ever Italian food alongside mobsters on Federal Hill in Rhode Island, sipping limoncello as an after dinner drink.

I’ve kayaked on Keleakua Bay in Hawaii with spinner dolphins and snorkeled with sea turtles.

I spent a summer traveling around Ireland. “Gotta do 10 or do it again,” was our motto when pubbing in Dublin. We did it again even after doing ten.

I’ve cruised the South of France and long to go back to London’s busy city streets. Africa was a trip of a lifetime and driving around Italy for 3 weeks is my definition of heaven. I carry a list of the top 50 places I want to travel to around with me. Seven places have been checked off. Someday, I will cross off number 50 and start a new list.

I bought my first home at 28 and have learned to paint with color. There isn’t a white wall in the place. I have killed more hydrangeas than I care to admit, hoping to someday have a thriving (or even surviving) plant or two of them. I love having a backyard to sit in, but the upkeep has become the bane of my existence.

Teaching is my job, but often it feels like my life. I love kids, but not sure if I want any of my own. It might be selfish, but I like my free time too much.

Looking for the man of my dreams I’ve dated mostly nightmares. I’ve never liked the ones who are good for me and have fallen hard for the ones who aren’t.

If music played while life happened (like in the movies) I think the world would be a better place.

My Dad passed away recently. It’s hard. I am sad, but I don’t always have the time to be sad; worrying about my mom. But, this too shall pass. At least I hope so.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tasty Tuesday


This weekend Miss Emily came over for a few hours and we made some cookie bars. I used my usual cookie bar recipe, but we added a new ingredient. Pretzels! A few weeks ago I saw these on Etsy. I love salty things and all of a sudden pretzels with chocolate chip cookies sounded like a fantastic idea!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars with Pretzels

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt (or less because the pretzels are salty)
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces chocolate chips 1½ cups pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
¼ cup chocolate chips, for topping
¼ cup peanut butter, for topping
¼ cup pretzels, broken, for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter or spray a 9×13 Pyrex dish.
2. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
3. Using a mixer, mix the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs and the vanilla extract. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix. Gently stir in the chocolate chips and broken pretzels.
4. Spread the dough evenly into the greased baking pan. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top.

5. Remove from the oven and begin to cool.
6. In the microwave, heat peanut butter and chocolate chips in separate bowls. Using a fork, drizzle the melted chocolate and PB over the top of the cookie bars. Sprinkle the broken pretzels on top.

7. Let cool to set up the melted chocolate and peanut butter. Cut into bars. Makes about 32 cookies.

Enjoy! If you like salty and sweet, these will be right up your alley! I recommend Rold Gold Pretzels. They taste better than the generic brands which often taste stale.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Saturday With a Five Year Old

One of my favorite people came to visit yesterday. Emily, my friend Kristen’s daughter, got to spend the day at my house all by herself, without her silly older brothers tagging along.

Emily was quite excited to have some “girl” time.  Her mom called me the night before to tell me that when she picked Emily up from school Friday afternoon Emily asked they were going to “Auntie Kim’s” house right then.  When Kristen told her not until the next day, Emily wanted to know how early she got to come over.  Ahhh, how cute.

Emily arrived at 11:00.  After saying goodbye to her mom and older brother, we got right down to business.  Our first activity was baking.  Emily has quite the sweet tooth and loves to help in the kitchen so I bought everything we needed to make some bar cookies. Emily is a great help in the kitchen.  While I measured, she poured everything into the mixer.  Once the cookie dough was finished, she helped with the clean up (licking the spoon and bowls is my favorite part too).

While the cookies baked in the oven, we went upstairs to the art room for some creating.  Emily loves arts and crafts.  She could draw, color, paint, cut, and glue for hours.  If glitter is involved she can do it even longer.
Em 031

Once the cookies were finished baking, we had to add the toppings.  I drizzled the chocolate and peanut butter on top and Emily added the pretzels.
With the cookies all finished but needing to cool we went back to creating.  Emily made some beautiful artwork including this lovely abstract portrait of me…
When the creations were finished we checked on the cookies to see if they were ready.  They were.  I cut us each a piece and we enjoyed it thoroughly.  
Em 014 About 4 hours later her mom called to see how I was doing.  Emily and I made her family a plate of cookies to take with her when her mom picked her up.  After a fun-filled day, Emily left for home with her mom.  Before she left, she asked if I could save some cookies for her to have the next time she came over.  So I wrapped up a few cookies to put in the freezer, kicked off my shoes, and spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch.  The best part of being an “auntie”…we have a great time together and then she goes back to her own house.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Writer’s Workshop #6 – The Mayo Story

If you cover one eye and squint this is a story about my birth, WW topic #2 (or events leading up to it).


Those of you who know me know that of the many things I dislike, mayonnaise is probably what I dislike most. I have posted about how mayo makes me nauseous. Tasting it, seeing it, smelling it, and even listening to it disgusts me. Blech! This aversion to mayo does not come from a bad experience (however there have been some bad experiences due to this aversion). I was just born with it. Here’s the story…

Both my parents are mayonnaise eaters. Growing up, they put mayo on a lot of food, weird food – sandwiches, avocados, tuna, artichokes, even tacos. You’d think that mayo was in the genes (just like our blue eyes), but clearly it was not.

When my mom was pregnant with me she had morning sickness just once over the 9 months. During the work week, my dad usually made sack lunches for the day while my mom got ready in the morning. One morning however, my mom made the lunches for the day – sandwiches for she and my dad. As she spread the mayo on the bread, I apparently had had enough with the mayo already. My mom remembers that the sound and feel of it spreading on the bread was just too much and it made her sick. Ya, I know the feeling.

So you see, this is hatred started in the womb. Mayo and I just don’t mix.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tasty Tuesday


Next to Italian, Mexican is a close second as my favorite type of food. Although I don’t cook it as often (probably because we have great Mexican restaurants nearby), I have a few recipes in my repertoire. This is one of my favorites and it’s so easy!

Carne Asada Tacos

2 pounds thin grilling steak like skirt steak or flap meat (I use flap meat)
1/2 cup tequila
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
4 cloves garlic crushed
1 medium onion chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Tabasco
Warmed tortillas (16-20)
Taco toppings – salsa, cilantro, cheese, guacamole, etc.

1. Mix juices, garlic, onion, tequila, Tabasco and pepper in a large ziplock bag.
2. Poke holes in the meat and add it to the bag, marinating both sides.
food 0343. Marinate in the refrigerator, for 6-8 hours, turning the bag every hour or so.
4. Remove meat from marinade, reserving marinade.
5. Place the meat on a preheated grill.
6. Turn steak after 5-7 minutes and brush steak with remaining marinade. Cook an additional 5-7 minutes.
7. Cut into thin slices, against the grain.
8. Place a few slices of steak on a warm tortilla and add salsa, cilantro, or guacamole to your liking.
The flavors in this Carne Asada are amazing! If you want to make it even more authentic, try making your own corn tortillas like the ones above. They’re easy and even more delicious than store bought.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Some Lovely Blogs

Just this past week I was honored with an award. I know what you’re thinking…it must be the Nobel Peace Prize, but no. I was awarded the “One Lovely Blog” award by Domestic Spaz. I very much appreciate this award.


In order to accept this award, I had to agree to bestow the honor onto others. The rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award" are…

  • Accept the award.
  • Post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
  • Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
  • Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I have recently “met” some new-to-me bloggers by participating in Writer’s Workshop.
1. And If It’s a Hero
2. Let’s Have a Cocktail
3. Unknown Mami
4. Island Roar (not from writer’s workshop, but a very cool blog – which is produced in Martha’s Vineyard - that I’ve been reading for a couple of months now)
5. Teacher Tom (also not from ww - about a boy preschool teacher...lots of fun)

Most of these blogs have more comments than I have readers, but I'd still like to honor these blogs that I have recently discovered.
I am such a rule follower so only choosing 5 bloggers kills me. However, since it is my blog, I’m only choosing four. These are blogs that I have added to my blogroll and read regularly. Go check them out!

Thanks again Domestic Spaz!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Suffix –less

In California, one of the 2nd grade language arts standards is prefixes and suffixes. Students are required to know how a word can be changed by adding a prefix or suffix. There are quite a few that they need to know so we start on that instruction at the very beginning of the year.

This past week I introduced “-less”. As with most affixes, once you teach it to 7 year olds, they add it to everything. After showing them “homeless”, “painless”, and “careless” hands started popping up on the carpet showing me that they were ready to give it a try.

After “dogless”, “catless”, and “goldfishless” I stopped them before they went through all the pets. I showed them a few more, “harmless” and “penniless”. More hands popped up to offer “runless” and “boneless”. Oh, good, we got one. After a few more explanations, they got better - “boneless”, “shirtless”, and “friendless”.

As I added the new ones to our chart, one lone hand remained. As I called on the student, “hairless” was added. Of course, that is a great example using the suffix '”-less” so I added it to the chart. While I did so, we talked about the meaning, “without hair”. This caused my entire class to roll around on the floor laughing.

school 001

What is it about that word “hairless”? It is a funny word. For an adult, there are many images that it conjures up and most of them are funny. What I wonder is what little kids are visualizing when they hear that word.

Are there any words that make you laugh?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Writer’s Workshop #5 – Top Ten

David Lettermen has gotten himself into a bit of trouble over the last week. If you haven’t been following the news, here’s a quick rundown. Earlier this year Dave married a long time girlfriend who he has a son with. Just last week, he announced that he had been unfaithful (gasp!) with women from his staff and last month he was a victim of extortion over these affairs. Of course, since his announcement and recent apology his ratings have gone through the roof (gosh, I love America). So here I’m hoping to capitalize on his misfortune and see if my ratings too go through the roof too.

Top Ten Things I’d Rather Do Than Have Sex With David Letterman…*

10. Talk to a 1-800 customer service representative

9. Listen to someone spread mayo on a piece of bread

8. Have sex with George Clooney

7. Tie a 2nd grader's untied shoelaces

6. Clean my kitchen floors

5. Sit in a staff meeting while my boss pulls on his neck.

4. Have sex with Hugh Jackman
Project2 hugh-jackman-shirtless-stallion-07

3. Drive on the 405, anytime of day

2. Watch golf on television

And the
#1 thing I’d rather do than have sex with David Lettermen …

Have sex with Gerard Butler

*There are a few that I’d really rather do. Can you guess which ones?