Wednesday, February 27, 2008


For me, reading a paper book is infinitely more satisfying than reading the same words on a screen. Wearing hand-knit socks brings a special kind of comfort you can't get from store bought socks. And macaroni and cheese from a box can't compare to what you make from scratch.
I got a new typewriter this week as a bit of decor to go by my writing desk. None of the kids can walk past it without punch a few keys and swinging the arm back to make it ding. It's not pen and ink (though I like that, too) but it holds a certain appeal that a computer lacks.
Not that I would EVER want to go back to writing on a typewriter, but it has a nice aura.

Monday, February 25, 2008

In My Fortune Cookie

You or a close friend will be happily married.

What kind of fortune is that?

Do I have to choose?

If my husband I are happy after 20 years together, are we stealing the happiness from someone else? Would it be better to just be kind of happy and loan a little bliss to someone else?

Or if a close friend is happily married, does that mean my marriage is going to the dogs?

Twisted History

Okay, I'll admit that I didn't pay very good attention in Mr. Metzger's Western Civ. class in 10th grade (or Mr. Chu's American History in 9th), but there are things I'm learning as I do history with my kids that I'm sure I was never taught.

Like... how did I not catch that the same Isabella and Ferdinand who sponsored Christopher Columbus on his search for a passage around the world were the same Isabella and Ferdinand who sponsored the Spanish Inquisition at its height? That the same year they sent Chris off in the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, they also kicked all the Jews out of Spain?

We're reading these stories from several perspectives now and it's interesting to see how some books remember Isabella as a power hungry maniac who took advice from men of the cloth who were even more wicked than she was. Other books talk about how devout she was and how her only goal in life was to turn Spain back into a country with a pure faith.

Hello? I'm not sure burning people at the stake, having neighbor turn against neighbor, or accepting the witness of the accusers, but not the accused, is the best way to get people to be honest about what they believe.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Flamingos and Penguins

My youngest spent her day yesterday planning a trip to Florida. She dressed in a tropical skirt and put on purple sunglasses and (don't ask me why) a white bandana. No one gave her this idea. No one even told her about Florida. She was coloring a map of the USA and when she got to Florida and its large flamingo, she was sold.

That was that place for her. She wants to go hang out with the flamingos.

I told my neighbor, who's from Florida, about the kiddo's plans.

"Oh, honey, I'm sorry," she said. "The only flamingos in Florida are in zoos or they're plastic ones stuck in people's front yards."

Can I just say I'm shocked? All these years, I thought the only state whose reputation was messed up was Alaska's. We used to laugh at pictures of polar bears hanging out with penguins. (News flash: no penguins in Alaska, but I'm sure you knew that.)

Now I don't know what to think. Did they make up the whole thing about Idaho having potatoes? Or cowboys in Texas? Or teepees in New Mexico (I swear, that's on this map, too. The only teepees I've actually seen in NM were huge tourist traps)

What lies have we been told about where you live? What has surprised you when you've visited somewhere new?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Late Bird

I stay up too late. Call it a character flaw, a bad habit, a craving for quiet time once everyone's in bed, but I'm rarely asleep before midnight.

And try as I might, I can never seem to wake up as early as I intend. This morning, I didn't hear the alarm, or my husband get out of bed.

I also missed the meteor that blazed across the skies of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. That would have been cool.

On a much less cool note, I did see the descending spy satellite make its steady, boring way across the sky last night. And I'll be out tomorrow evening to get a look at the lunar eclipse.

But, shucks, I wish I'd been up early enough to see a fireball blast past.

Monday, February 18, 2008


What happened to the expectation that people had a right to privacy? The neighbor peering over the back fence was the only one who might know your personal business, unless she chose to share it with someone.

Nowadays in America, every movement in a public place is tracked. Security cameras record when I go to the grocery store (Safeway's camera's are the most flattering), when I take money out at an ATM, when I pump gas, when I run a red light-- not that I ever would.

Beyond the loss of privacy in the name of security is the amount of infomation on the internet. I try to be pretty careful about what I write in my blog, but it wouldn't be too hard, if someone wanted to, to piece together my life using the power of the web... how I spend my time, how many kids I have and how old they are, where I live.

I used to write little stories about people I spend time with, but I'm so jittery about having too much information about myself out there, I don't want to subject anyone else to scrutiny. Some people, I know, don't mind. Some of my friends have their pictures, their addresses and their moment-by-moment activities posted on web communities like myspace and facebook. But others would rather just be left in peace. Cyber bullies, flaming, identity theft... the scope of how people can be hurt just seems to grow.

Among friends, should there be an assumption of confidentiality? Or are we beyond that? Does being a citizen of the world dictate that everything is your life is fair game to bloggers, cell phone cameras, and the whims of anyone with internet access?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love Letters

I still have all the letters he wrote me, though I haven't read any of them in twenty years. A box full of memories, untouched but still precious. For now, though, I lock the memories in my heart...

...the little slip on the ice that led to holding hands for the first time.

...the walk at the glacier and phone call to his mother that we called our first date.

...him selling his camera to buy my plane ticket to visit him at school.

...the way he would run to open the gate for me when he heard me driving up the road. he always eats whatever I cook, goes to see whichever movie I want to see, and listens to my monologs about whatever's on my mind. he schlepped a porcelaine tea service for eight on his back through the streets of Zurich because 1) I wanted the tea set for Mom and 2) We might never be back in Zurich again, so we might as well look around while we had the chance. he took me, 6 months pregnant, into the heart of Brussels in short sleeves in sub-freezing temperatures, because I insisted I wanted a Belgian waffle.

...the way he would stop at the Tsevie corner so I could hop out for fresh grilled corn, even though dark was approaching and he wanted to get home.

...the way he never complains about having to work full time, or even overtime, to allow me to be home with the kids.

...his wisdom in choosing his words.

...and so many more memories, more than two decades worth.

I love you more than ever.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

First Signs of Spring

It could have been seeing the thermometer rise above 50 for the first time in three months or seeing the sun in the sky for the first time in what seems like that long.

It could have been the tulip, daffodil, and hyacynth leaves that are now pushing their way up through the waterlogged soil, or the large bloom of green algae growing on the front sidewalk.

But the first real sign of spring was the giant purging of the office. It was a three day job, but I managed to eliminate enough junk to get rid of one whole dresser. All the papers waiting to be filed (a stack, I'm afraid to say, that exceeded a foot in height) are now safely tucked away in their dark, skinny homes. The kids' craft projects are contained! Even the huge TO DEAL WITH stack on the desk has been reduced to 2 addresses I need to enter in the computer.

I'm a realist. I know it won't last. I'd like to blame the family, but I'm afraid I'm guilty of letting things stack up in here, too. But it will last long enough for me to get out of the house and start some of those early spring projects outside that get my blood pumping again.

I'm ready for spring. Bring it on!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Who's the Expert?

Is it a new trend among interviewers or has this been going on for a while? I've noticed lately that when I watch any of a number of media personalities, they look for opportunities to throw their own spin on the experts' advice.

This is not a real interview, but what I've observed goes something like this:

Interviewer: I'm here with Dr. X, the premiere world expert on puzzle grass. Dr. X, isn't it true that puzzle grass is one of the few things in nature that can be taken apart and reconstructed, even by a child?

Dr. X: That's right, Joe. I first became interested in puzzle grass because of its special zigzig structure. As I studied more about it, though, I learned that there's more to this species than meets the eye.

Interviewer: What exactly did you learn?

Dr. X: Puzzle grass happens to be the primary food source for the rare flubber fish.

Interviewer: So if puzzle grass goes extinct, so does the flubber? (cut to photo of lonely flubber fish then back to concerned interviewer).

Dr. X: Yes, we're working with flubber fish experts from around the world to study the possibilities.

Interviewer: But it's important to remember to fight global warming, drink 8 glasses of water a day, and have your pet spayed and/or neutered. Thanks for joining us, Dr. X.

Dr. X: Err...

Interviewer: We'll be back with a recipe for how to make organic hamster chow right after this.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


No, it's not the last four digits of my phone number or my social security number.

It's not the number of times I've put off doing the dishes today.

It's not the amount I owe on my credit card (thankfully).

3563 is the number of words I've written on my novel since this morning. Between schooling, mopping the floor, and washing the shower curtain, I've managed to spend some time in my computer chair.


Now that's progress!

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Friendly Face

There's something about a genuine smile that can brighten any day, about the person who loves his life so much, he can't help sharing it.

Every time I look out my office window, I'm greeting by this smiling face. My tin man loves his job and he reminds me, in his strong silent type kind of way, to love mine too.

"It's not so bad," he seems to say. "You've got a roof over your head and the chatter of children all the time. If you get grouchy, you could come out and party with me and the birds and the squirrels."

The tin man used to live at my Grandma's house. He liked it there, too. Sometimes he tells me stories about the ways he cheered her up.

He just seems to have that effect on people.