Friday, August 29, 2014

guess who's here!

Go ahead...GUESS! OK here's a hint:
My mommy!
No matter how unrelentingly hideous the travel day has been, mom always arrives with a smile 
It's going to be a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Post-sunset view

This is my San Francisco post-sunset view tonight. Pretty amazing watching the fog roll in and out...

I wouldn't trade it for this San Diego pre-sunset view

But almost...

Big Cacti

My first Throwback, er, Wednesday. But this is important foreshadowing, for what's to come.

Please note:

A) The size of Big Cacti's tiny little ears, way back in 2011, and:

B) The size of Big Cacti, period. Mistah is leaning down to gaze upon him . . .

. . . to be continued . . . 


Madame Mantis

The Praying Mantis is Connecticut's state insect, which, you've got to admit, is supercool.

And the other night, one paid us a visit . . .

. . . and landed right on Giant Cacti in our kitchen.

She used the cactus needles as rungs to climb up her new discovery.

One of the most interesting thing about Praying Mantises -- besides them flying into strangers' houses at nights -- is their reproduction habits:

The infamous reproductive process in many praying mantis species is marked by a post-sexual cannibalism of the male by the hungry female, and is an ongoing subject of research and legend.*

That's right. They mate, and then the female bites the male's head right off his fool body.

Who, me?

Yes, me. So watch what you say, suckah.

You'd never know it; she looks so calm and regal in silhouette.

But she's fierce, and she's awesome and she's all woman.

Plus, she makes a fabulous drop-in visitor.

And a spectacular new friend.

Madame Mantie

And one self-respecting State Insect.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

just this once

My girl and I have a well-documented  thing for the theeYAYtah. We’re specificated folks, ya know.  We have been venturing out to smaller productions here and there to keep it real, but our favorite nights out are when we put on dresses and go to the Civic Theater downtown for touring Broadway productions.  The first one she ever saw there was Annie, and has since added Billy Elliot, Wicked, Beauty and the Beast, West Side Story, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and most recently, Once.  Am I forgetting any? She wasn’t with me for Hairspray, Rent, Jersey Boys, American Idiot, Book of Mormon, and she’s not coming to Kinky Boots, but we do have tickets for another tour of Wicked in November. ANYWAY.

I like to have a general sense of the story and music before seeing a new show, and although I’d seen the move Once my girl never had, so we sought to find it. We were chagrined that we couldn’t find it anywhere (meaning it was available neither on demand nor Netflix), but we bought the soundtrack and listened to it when we could in between travel and while not in the car together as much as we would have been during school months. We mostly sang the same song over and over and over. You know the one.

While searching for a story summary to share with my girl, I read many reviews and watched many outtakes and interviews. In two places, it was noted that the set for Once is a pub in Dublin, and the audience was invited to visit this pub before curtain to buy drinks and, you know, just BE ON THE STAGE.

I told my girl about this, and she was skeptical. Have you MET her?  It’s her nature. I was excited, though, and I promised that if there was even the slightest chance that we could get ourselves up on that stage, we were going to do so.

I had purchased our tickets online, and the day of the show I went to my KEEP folder to find and print them. I opened up my account, and there was no print option! I tried several things to make it appear, but none worked. Now I’m known for finding bargains when I buy tickets to things. I search and study the web for promotional codes, memberships and coupons that I can exploit enjoy to make extravagent outings like the TheeYAYtah more affordable for families of modest means like ours. There was a nagging worry that maybe I’d taken it too far in securing these particular seats (which were spectacular), and the gig was up. I was rushing to get out the door and unable to print and everyone was waiting for me so I had no choice but to do the unthinkable and pick up the telephone to dial up a live human person. Ew. The human was nice enough, when we couldn’t figure the problem out together she offered to email me the tickets as an attachment, and I accepted. I just had to wait for the email. So I waited. Taptaptaptaptaptap refreshrereshrefreshrefresh. It did not come. Everyone was still waiting. It did not come. I had to call back! I got a new person on the phone and explained my woe and she made another kind offer: she’d pull the tickets and put them at will call. Perfect! Out the door. Let me just check my email one more…. Oh, they came. I printed them.

We got to the theater early, parked and moseyed over to the theater. There was no line at  will call, so I suggested that we pick up the tickets so we’d have the stubs to save with our playbills rather than the lame computer print out. The friendly humans at will call where not the same friendly humans of the phone calls, and they had never heard of me. They started sending me from window to window… was I a season ticket holder? I was thinking Oh God, did I finagle a season ticket discount? The worst part was that I had tickets in my purse, but what was I supposed to say? What kind of person goes to will call for tickets that she has in her purse? A crazy person, that’s the kind A crazy cheap person. Me. When asked to go to the next window, I pretended to get a phone call and stepped away from the counter then quickly ran away to the other side of the theater. Crazy person.  We went in with our perfectly acceptable computer generated tickets, and looked around.

There had been no public or spoken confirmation of the pre-show hinjinx, but I was determined to find out. My girl had it in her mind that if it was weird/uncomfortable/only for old people, she’d just go to our seats and take photos of me having my broadway debut. My decision making about the tickets had not done much to elevate my trustworthiness in my girl’s eyes, and she had just about reached the limit of her tolerance for my weirdness. But you guys, there was a line forming at the orchestra door.

Oh, she was skeptical.

I promised that when the doors opened, I’d ask the usher if it was legit and kid friendly. I told her not to worry, if we didn’t belong there they would just kick us out. She was not entirely reassured.  

Finally, the doors opened and I heard the usher say to someone: “Are you sitting in orchestra?” then wave her in even when the answer was no.  I knew it was a go, and my girl was along for the ride like it or not. We hurried up to join the line that was forming at stage left, where a portable stairway had been perched to allow access TO THE STAGE. 

We had to wait a while. There were guys on either side keeping track of the number of people up there, and at one point it seemed like we were stalling. We were almost at the front, and I started to fret that time would be up before we got our turn. After a few minutes, people started leaving the stage to take their seats. Soon my girl and I were next in line, and stood vibrating with excitement (me) and shrinking in concern (guess who). I struck up a conversation with the usher who stood next to us with her eye on the stage guy waiting for a go-ahead. She was non committal about our prospects, but she did say that if/when we got up there, we should stay put until someone asked us to leave.  I tried to engage my girl in hyperbole about which of my favorite big numbers I should belt out when I finally got on stage. She looked around as if to wonder who I was addressing. Turd. 

Then we got the wave! We were told the rules: don't touch the chairs, and no photographs. My girl naturally headed to the back of the stage, but I stopped her and led her front and center, where we stood together and faced the audience for a moment, drinking it in. I don't remember saying anything at all, but my girl insists that I went on and on about "remember this always" and "once in a lifetime" and yada yada blah blah blah.  We headed over to the bar where I ordered a drink. Right there on the stage. We looked around and chatted with people and it was cool and weird and exciting. 

Oh, and then the cast joined us. Are you familiar with the stage production of Once? There's no orchestra, the cast all plays instruments and they are all pretty much on stage the whole time, hence the chairs. So the cast joined us, and stood in the middle of our friendly conversation circle and started to play. Fiddles and squeezebox and all manner of guitars and banjos and things on which to drum. And voices. My God, those voices. We were standing next to them, hearing their voices right out of their heads rather than through amplification. We watched as they took big breaths and opened wide and unleashed their instruments. It was amazing. We'll remember this always. It was once in a lifetime. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Clearly it's a "go"

Beth is away on the second leg of  her yogi adventure, and asked me to re-introduce this post from when she was struggling with the decision about whether or not to undertake the certification process: 


Yes or no? Stay or go?

Here it is almost Halloween! How did it happen? Where did the time go? What happened to summer?!? Somehow time just keeps slipping away, at a faster and faster pace each year. Physically impossible, I know, but perceptually true. 

Long gone for me are the days of wishing time would pass so I could go to kindergarten, or get my driver's license, or put my fake ids away when I turned 21. I'd prefer a tick-tock slow down at this point. (Except during some exceptionally boring work days.)

But, I must confess that I am on schedule for the goal that I set on New Year's day this year. The year did not get away from me in this respect. This isn't something that usually happens. Rarely, really. But I had help this year.

This past New Year's day I went to a yoga and goal-setting workshop. It was a valuable 3 hours. In addition to the yoga, which is always helpful, the goal-setting portion of the workshop was insightful. They instructed us to set larger goals, not your typical nit-picky New Year's resolutions. In fact, they even took it farther; we were to put our goals out there for the next three years.

There is wisdom in this, as one goal can build on the next, and the next; or you can work on one area of your life one year, another are during the next, and so on.

This year's goal, 2013, was to find, then create, a new home for me and my girls. We were doing fine in our beater rental in OB as I sat there on January 1st, but it was a transition spot, and I knew we all needed a real home, a place where we could unpack and get comfortable in for the foreseeable future.

I'm feeling pretty confident that I've done this. Yes, it could use some more art on the walls, and yes, there are electrical and heating fixes that still need to be made, but it's home. The house hunting, contact negotiating, mortgage securing bullshit, physical move, and unpacking are behind us.

So, yay for me and my 2013 goal. I rock.

This leads me to my 2014 goal: yoga teacher training. Why teacher training? Am I really ever going to teach yoga? Honestly, I don't know. But I really feel strongly that it's the next logical step in my yoga practice. I toy around in my head with the future possibilities of owning a studio or of supporting myself in a vastly different ex patriot life in Mexico or Costa Rica.

In reality, in the near future, I'd like to teach a class or two a week here while I continue on in this life. The challenge of creating an interesting sequence of poses, putting it together with kick-ass music, and passing on to others all that yoga has provided me with is motivating.

Blah, blah, blah, so I wanna get certified, k?

My hang up, the reason for this post, the problem, is that I want to train under a certain person. She's San Francisco based, which is not totally convenient, but not impossible. I have been trolling her website for months, waiting for her 2014 teacher training to be posted. When, where, how much would it be? Sign me up, sign me up, sign me up.

Ha, well, guess what? The 2014 training, the initial 100-hour portion, is in Bali. Bali!!! She usually holds the winter portion in Mexico. You know, our neighbor directly to the south, a close, quick flight; plus I could even write a great article about it for the Mexico travel magazine I contribute to.

But no, she is taking her first sabbatical ever and moving herself and her two girls to Bali for the majority of  2014.

There she is doing hurdler's pose, in Bali. Taunting me!

Don't get me wrong. I would love to go to Bali. I have never been to Bali. Who would not want to go to Bali?

But Bali? It's so far away, it would add an extra day of travel each way, to a trip that would already take me away from my kids for  more than 10 days. The cost of the airfare to Bali is three times what the cost of a ticket to Mexico would be.

But Bali? With Janet Stone?

I mean, it WAS my 2014 goal, right?

That's what my, fuck-it, you-only-live-once-and-who-knows-for-how-long-that-will-even-be side is saying.

But my more responsible and much less fun side is saying, just push the training back a year, or train with someone here locally, or find some other option, there are always other options; two weeks in Bali is too much, too far, too expensive, too selfish.

No one can make the decision for me, I get this. I need to figure it out in my own head, in my own time. But I'm forcing you to come along with me on this internal debate because it helps me to write things down.

See how selfish I am? (Is that a sign?)

Friday, August 22, 2014

This Is How We Eat..... the Summer in Connecticut.

 There's this . . . .

 . . .  as already discussed.

 And then there's this. This is pretty great.

 But also there's this.

 Oh how I love this.

This is anything from the Farmers' Market, anything from the roadside stands, anything one can put on the grill, combined with the most incredible summer for corn-on-the-cob . . .

This is how this makes me feel.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 semi-interesting things

You know the drill, none of these five tidbits are interesting enough to warrant their own blog post, and although that certainly hasn't stopped me in the past, I'm going to make today's post a hodge podge collection of unrelated yet mildly interesting (to me) topics.

1. The backyard

We started the project in late July, and the first phase is done. We have successfully hardscaped! I have photos of the process up to this point, it was hard work and we all feel very accomplished and proud. The thing is, when I look at the photos all I see is dead beige. See for yourself

Beige. Dead.
It's because we decided to use planters and raised beds, and we're going to put a shade canopy and furniture in the middle. But still.  I mean seriously, the before picture looks slightly more alive

We've put some giant celery green pots over on this side and now it looks better, but I couldn't take the photos today because I didn't want to pick up the dog poop.

I believe in full disclosure. Mostly.

Anyway. We've got a special visitor arriving next week so we are extra motivated to make our purchases and capitalize on end of summer clearance specials. It's going to be great! And then it will get it's own post. But for now, on to the next topic.

2.  Once

My girl and I had the most incredible experience at the theater recently. I was not allowed to take photos or this would probably qualify as worthy of an individual post. We went to see Once, have you seen it? Wait. I think this deserves it's own post. There's the ticket snafu, the rumors about what we could do before the show, the level of mistrust that my girl had for me, the seats, waiting to do the thing, doing the thing, and of course the show. Yes. Report back next week for full disclosure.

3. Del Mar

You know how I love me mah ponies. I've only been to the races twice so far this year, I need to squeeze in one more visit. Who wants to come? I've got free tickets.

4. People are weird at the beach 

exhibit a:

 exhibit b:

YES that is my shoulder and YES that is Beth's shoulder. NO that woman in black was not with us. Beth reached behind her and actually touched her foot! WHY ARE PEOPLE SO WEIRD AT THE BEACH??
 exhibit c:

5. Ice Bucket Challenge

Of course you know about this, everyone knows about this. It's funny, it's for a good cause, it's working, haters be hating. Challenges have been circling around my extended family, who has been touched more than once by ALS and I knew it would get to me eventually. I did not expect the challenge to come from my own child, the fruit of my very loins. But it did. I spared Beth since she's going out of town tomorrow, but other co-bloggers who shall remain nameless were not so lucky.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

I much prefer being an ostrich

Wtf, has the world has gone crazy while I was hiding from it?

Just last week I decided that I needed to be more aware of what is going on in the world. So I'm checking all the headlines a few times a day and reading various articles. It's worse than I remember. Much.

Is this summer more fucked up than usual? Or is it just my ignorance-is-bliss stance of late that has removed me from how crazy and hate-filled the human race can be?

Seriously -- why must people be filled with hate for other people simply because they don't look, or worship, or think like they do?

I'm not condoning Robin Williams suicide (also upsetting news), but honestly, the state of the world's affairs is seriously depressing and overwhelming. How do we effectively deal with it? There is so much sickness and death and bigotry and misunderstanding and greed and violence. Not to mention our own personal problems and struggles.

And the media? They are very little help. All this seriously upsetting shit is completely sensationalized. I mean, how long was the missing Malaysian plane the top story on CNN? (Or was it Fox? I haven't watched TV for months, so I'm not sure.) A month, two? Longer! Conspiracies, blame, live interviews, stinging sound bites. Anything to get the peeps to tune in.

And tune in they do. All day long. All night long. It's not good for you, people! (And you're only getting the story they're telling you.)

What is it about humans that draw us to bad news and tragedy? Why does traffic slow to a snail's pace even when the accident is cleared to the side of the road? Rubbernecking is for sickos.

I get that completely withdrawing from the events of the world is not the answer either, but can we get a little balance please?

There is amazing work going on in the world, and it gets so little air time. Why is that?

It does comfort me to know that the death of  B K S Iyengar today (it was still last night here) is getting coverage in media outlets as diverse as the Wall Street Journal to The  Guardian to Al Jazeera. And although the news of his death is on the one hand sad - he is with us no more - he was 95 years old and lived a life that made a difference to thousands (more likely hundreds of thousands) throughout the world. At least we can all agree that his work and life were inspirational, and worth reflecting upon.

So, here I offer you one of his better known quotes, one that reminds us (me) to seek equanimity even as the world falls apart around us.

“Yoga allows you to find an inner peace that is not ruffled and riled by the endless stresses and struggles of life.”  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Our tomatoes have taken off.

We have possibly our best crop ever.

Mistah Schleckah took one look at those tomatoes the other day and uttered the words only a man as wise as he could utter:

"We need to make BLTs."

Tomatoes? Check.

Bacon? We walked to the corner market and bought a pound. Which Mistah cooked outside on the side burner of the gorgeous gas grill we found free on the side of the road. But that's a story for a different day.


Well, Mistah told me we needed to buy white bread. I said, "I'm sorry. I can't buy white bread."

Instead, I bought a "Mini French Boule." (Mistah says "Mini French Boule" is French for "white bread.")

And the last ingredient? The L of the BLT?


Okay, then! Let's improvise!

We toasted the white bread Mini French Boule . . .

. . . we chilled the bubbly . . .

. . . we sliced the Prize-Winnah from our garden . . .

. . . and we cooked a couple of home-grown eggs. Thanks, Julie B-H!

And do you know what else we bought, on our successful walk to the corner market?

American cheese.

That's right, my friends. Fromage Américain.

A little eggie here . . .

. . . a little tomato there . . .

. . . a little bacon everywhere . . .

. . . and voilĂ .

The BECT. Who needs L when you have E and C?

But wait, what's this?

Oooh, Mistah snuck in a secret, open faced BCT.

How'd you like the BCT, Mistah?

Oh yeah.

But for me, it's all about the BECT. It's breakfast, it's lunch, it's summer, it's fresh, it's delicious . . .

. . . it's perfection.

Monday, August 18, 2014

whoopsie daisies

Pulled a Beth this morning, sorry loves! Here is a throwback to a time long ago, although nothing has changed. Shout out to my sisters Julie and Jane for the upgraded silence levels in their lives this week!


Too Much Noise

There is this book that the kids and I love where the main character, Peter, is all up in arms because his house is so noisy. The bed creaks, the floor squeaks, the tea kettle whistles, the leaves rustle. Peter, as you can see in the cover illustration, is not a content man.

He does what all storybook characters of a certain age do when they have a problem; he goes to see the wise man of the village. The wise man mentors Peter through the endlessly amusing task of bringing a series of noisy animals in his little house.


The wise man tells Peter to get a cow. Then he tells Peter to get a donkey, then a sheep, a hen, a dog, and a cat.


Peter does as he is told, he gets himself one of each of these animals, and then he gets pissed.


He returns to the wise man, fists raised in fury, and positively blows a gasket describing the moos and clucks and meows and baaas and woofs that are now corrupting his house.

The wise man tells Peter to get rid of the cat. And the dog. And the hen, the sheep, the donkey, and the cow.

Peter does as he is told. Then he sits in his house, and the bed creaks.

"Ahhhh", says Peter.

The floor squeaks,

“mmmmm” says Peter.


The teakettle whistles, the leaves rustle,


“Ahhhh, mmmmm” says Peter.


He loves his quiet house.


I need to find the wise man of my village, because my life is too noisy and I don’t have any barnyard animals to get rid of. Sure, I could eliminate the woof, but that’s honestly the least of my problems. It’s the incessant talking that is bringing out the Peter in me.


At work, the people love to communicate. I am constantly being forced to break away from my blogging work to respond, resolve, reassure, redirect, and reprimand as needed. But I get paid for this discourse so I really can’t complain.


When I leave work, however, my time is my own and my mouth just wants to stay shut.


At the gym, I don’t have to talk. I’m not a whooper or a small talker. I’m just there to get the job done.


But when I get home, I don’t have a single digit in the door before my peeps start in with the talking. Questions, stories, announcements, questions, songs, fights, questions, requests, questions, questions,questionsQUESTIONS

why aren't they on the high dive? how many flips was that? why isn't the board bouncy? which one is USA? are we winning? we're americans, right? when's the election? what if it's a tie? will george washington get to stay president? why is the board so bouncy? are we winning? why'd george washington start the war in iraq? is it over yet? are we winning? what will you say if barack wins? will you be so happy you'll cry? why are the boys wearing those little blue panties? what would your face look like if you won the bronze?

until I LOSE IT. I’m like Sharpay during all the singing and dancing in the cafeteria when she steps up to the railing and yells: “Everybody QUIET!”


And then I just stand there and soak up the blessed (albeit stunned) silence for a minute before I allow the guilt to creep in about what amean wife and mommy I am to wish so desperately for a mute button to control my own family.


Following the logic of Peter’s wise man, I could either encourage my family to increase their volume for a while, or I could increase the number of mouths talking at me in my house for a while.


After a few days in either scenario, I’m sure the return to normal would seem blessedly serene.


I can’t risk it though,

Not when the hush of Baja's beaches are so close by.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Me look pretty one day

I'm not sure what it is about my head, and the hairs upon it, but my girls sure do like to mess with it. Well, at least two out of the three of them do. And sometimes other people's kids too.

When my oldest was a wee lass, I loved it when she wanted to play "hairdresser," as all it involved from me was sitting still on the floor while she tugged and yanked and corralled my tresses into all manner of crazy configurations. Sure, it hurt sometimes, but for the most part it was time off from the myriad duties of mommyhood. Plus she was so into it.

She hasn't changed much. Well, maybe a little. She's now about the same size as me, and her mad hair skillz are definitely more pronounced.

Close up

close up

Plus she has crazy early teen tricks, like sock curls.

You'll be heartbroken to know that I have no idea where the "after" photo is.
Next we have a tried-and-true classic 'do created by my friend Kendra's girl, on none other than Thanksgiving day. (Gratitude for daughters, I tell ya!)

And now for some work from my youngest:

Not bad!

Finally, here we are full circle to my eldest's most  ambitious work

We call this the Who 'do.

Cindy Loo ain't got nothing on me.

Although next time, maybe we should add the flying saucers. #inspiration