disclaimer or something

A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday schmoliday

As a child, I became your stereotypical only child and demanded certain things for Christmas. No, it wasn't expensive toys or anything, just the Christmas of Norman Rockwell or the made for TV Christmas movies. Hell I would have been alright with a National Lampoon's Christmas - they were more like my family, just more festive.

I wanted tinsel on the tree but my mom sad it would kill he cats. I wanted tinsel garland but my dad said it was gaudy, almost as gaudy as my grandmas metallic fake tree which I had a secret affinity for. I wanted lights on the roof and eaves, windows and trees, but my parents said no one comes to visit so why out them up? I wanted fake snow flocking but my parents said I could enjoy real snow outside. I wanted a turkey for dinner but the one time my mom made some, it turned out blue - a culinary mystery yet to be solved.

Most of all, I wanted to rip into my gifts with an almost religious fervor, paper like confetti and ribbons strew about in a post apocalypse of gift wrap. This was he one time of the year I could do this (my birthday, celebrated often on Christmas, doesn't count).

But my mother, who tries to deny she is the hippy poster child, wanted to save Mother Earth by saving wrapping paper. I had to repress all that was kid, that screamed rip it open now!!! In a whirlwind of gift wrap rain and ribbon blizzard and instead meticulously remove tape, surgically wriggle off the bow, and delicately remove and fold the gift wrap.

Rip it open!!!!
Recycling gift wrap was her way to save the earth (aside from the fact she burned junk mail) and it got so bad that paper wasn't recycled once or twice, nay may. A few years back I recognized birthday wrap from my grand mother (and he. Mom a few times) from the 1990s. The 90s! I vehemently ripped it to shreds.

And now...the holiday doldrums have caught up to me. Sure, the tree is decorated (with tinsel garland!) and their are lights outside, but the advent calendar is stuck on December 11th, gifts are still being shipped in the mail. I'm trying to get into the spirit for my children's sake, to give them that Rockwell scene, but I am failing.

But dammit. My son WILL rip into his gifts like a caveman!

Monday, December 9, 2013

only in california...

If I tell someone I live in California, they assume certain things...I drive a Prius, make millions, am tan, can surf or know surfers, am an aspiring actress, know people in show biz, smoke pot, and that I work at google. I defy all those stereotypes.

My dad is "anti establishment" in that he dresses like a crazy mountain man/hobo/biker because he refuses to dress like a "square" and he refuses to "fit in". A fantastic story teller, he ha spun tales of living in communes and partying with the Stones and the like. He has a name tattooed on his arm, not my mom's or ex wife's, and when I asked about it, he said it was some cool ex girlfriend, end if story. Come to find out, she was best friends with the "bitching biker chick" of my namesake.

A little prodding and the story unfolds. My namesake wasn't a biker but hung with them some times. She was as Californjan as they get, blond, gorgeous, aspiring actress, beach bum, dating a rock star, with relatives in the Hollywood scene. Her boyfriend was a band member for The Byrds. Her best friend, forever marked on my dad's arm, was, as my dad says, responsible for turning him from a jerk to a nice dude. And then, my dad ended up married, jailed, married, homeless, married, a father, and now a grandfather. Life goes on.

It's just weird that one of his most boring stories, "yeah the tattoo is an ex" and "you were named for a biker chick" were real. Not only were they real but kind of cool. I mean, I've never partied with an aspiring actress who was in a few films, who was "in" the know of famous musicians and entertainers. How...dastardly Californian! Now I wonder how many of his far fetched stories are indeed true, and if he has a little Forrest Gump thing going on.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

books suck

No...really, books don't suck, yet recently I have struggled to find good boojs, browsing the best sellers and must read lists and being dissapointed.

Hunger Games...I love dystopian fiction and so I eagerly downloaded a free ebook sample. Twenty some pages in, I felt like I was reading a supermarket shelf young adult novel. I just couldn't get vested in the characters and thought, die already! Except, their deaths were just as....banal.

Then there were the Twilight saga books. One day at work, the computers were down and one can hardly aggregate online data without a computer, so I saw Twilight sitting on the 7th grade bookshelf and went at it. A few pages in, I thought, hmm I could care less about stupid vampires (having tried Anne Rice back in 6th grade)  but hey it is written kinda nicely, I mean it has a nice vocabulary. If a book hating kid wants to read this, right on! Sadly, it turned to nap inducing low intensity soap opera drivel. I struggled through 100 pages, unable to retrieve a better book because the 7th graders were testing.

Dan Browb books looked full of intrigue but the first three pages had me saying, and? So what? So I stopped reading.

The Great Gatsby was a book somehow avoided in high school and college, and even my years as a high school teacher. So one day, before it was even a movie, I picked it up. I even read a few chapters. I loved the way Fitzgerald made the characters so real that I could imagine their accents, mannerisms, and persona. He gets a gold star for "words painting a picture". So why did I stop reading? The story line bored the hell out of me. I felt like I was stuck in the hell that was Gone With the Wind. I know, everyone loves that movie but frankly I don't give a damn.

Pride and Prejudice and all those verbose Victorian novels are a no go, too. I respect the prose, it is excellent from an English teacher perspective, just...who gives a f@ck?

Now before you have a heart attack, I do love some decent literature. One of my absolute favorites is The Grapes of Wrath. The character development and story line is so raw and real. In fact, I haven't read it for about five years so I just may have to again. Even the old grainy black and white film was amazing for its time.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Call me crazy

Call so and so...

I had a bunch of things on my to-do list today, and I procrastinated with every excuse in the book, telling myself I needed to do the dishes, my toddler needed a different shirt on, Facebook just had to be browsed again.

I avoided the truth.

I have phone-phobia.

My heart races just at the thought of calling someone, especially someone I don't know. Call the cable company and the dog groomers? Wait is that the dryer buzzing? Huh? The dogs need to go outside?

I can feel the panic build up inside me and that fight or flight feeling blossom, the flight taking shape and beating the drums-my heart- at breakneck speed. My breath gets quick and shallow. I do a nervous clearing of my throat; the more I do it, the more nervous I am, and that makes me nervous because my husband knows about my "nervous twitch cough".

I don't know exactly why I have an irrational fear of the phone. I know nothing bad can happen and that I compose myself quite well over the phone. There's nothing to fear or worry about. But that means nothing.

Maybe it's because my mom often made calls I could have made as a teen, because she made all the calls for my dad who suffers from Aspergers, social phobia., and anxiety.

Maybe it's my personality. I am an total introvert, my Myers-Briggs is INFP, and "HSP" (Highly Sensitive Person) explains me to a "t".

I wish I knew why I am a phone-phobe so that I could address my phobia and conquer it. Until then, I feel like someone jumped out and screamed "boo!" For ten minutes before and after a phone call.

It feels good to finally admit to this, as it is something I have never told anyone. Maybe this is the first step in surviving a phone call.

Friday, November 29, 2013

art therapy

In college, I descendee into a lengthy bout of deprssion and figured a new scene might do some good. I applied to a college out of state, a small private university with acprogram in art therapy. I applied, visited the campus, and was accepted! And then my chronic inability to stick to things (yeah, still working on this) caused me to stay put. Besides, I mean how many art therapist jobs are there? My sociology degree and three teaching credentials have led to, in my 15 years of adulthood, 20 defferent jobs , a cumulative few years of unemployment and...overall worthlessness. But off that pity party train and onto my point!,
I do believe art can be healing. I went through a very shitty few years of life. In college  these years kind of scarred me. Trust me, rhings weren't that bad, but as a poster child for being a HSP, highly sensitive person. I still have to mull over those years in my dreams.

Music "spoke to me" back then, and helped me through it all. Tool was a band I loved (still do) and so, over ten years later, I finally decided to do art which went with lyrics. I did book arts to Tool, which I blogged about this month. My in laws wanted to see my book so it became a Thanksgiving conversation piece, likely labeling me as a tortured, depressed, needs psychotherapy, unfit person. I'm none of that and they just were bafflee...why did I choose these lyrics. Why are they so sad? Why did I do the imagesvI did? I explained, or tried to, but they just gave me confused and worrisome looks.

Maybe its the HSP in me, or the artist in me. But I can easily tap into back then and use art therapy now to heal from then. It is cleansing. It makes an ugly thing of the past into a beautiful thing of the present. I think that is pretty damned awesome.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Everyone's yelling
There's not enough wine to soothe
When family's mad

Can't wait till they're here
I love my family a lot
Hurry up and leave
Turkey coma time
This true you are what you eat
Say gobble gobble
Hey what is that sound
The bear's in the garbage and
He's drunk, pie and wine

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I loved holidays as a child, even though they never met my Norman Rockwell expectations. By a mile. But to me, regardless, they meant togetherness, family, comfort, fun, and food.

Sometimes we'd go to my grandma's and so they would all cook...whatever they'd cook. My dad stayed home cause he's like that. Grown ups would try and get me to eat yams with marshmallows. Those same grown ups enjoyed wine and White Russians and I would get sprite in a wine glass.

Other times, it was at home and we'd invite my dad's best friend (may he R.i.P.) and his son over for a feast.

And other times it was just us, mom, and, and I. Once we just ate cold canned soup because a storm had knocked out the power and the pipes had frozen, and the gas pilot went out and no one wanted to dig through three feet of snow to get under the house and light it.

Our feasts were generally the same foods, either well done prime rib or ham (two foods I hated), green beans stewed in broth and bacon, a simple red leaf lettuce salad, pumpkin pie, mashed red potatoes, gravy, stuffing. Along those lines, lets forget the year my mom went through a cilantro obsession and we ended up with baked stove top speckled with cilantro. If I were super lucky and begged and begged, my mom would add to the feast, Yorkshire puddings. Simple dough puffs cooked in cast iron, floating in beef drippings...you could stuff them with meat, stuffing, whatever was at hand. I could eat a dozen in one sitting but no on ever let me.

Now, I have my own family and my husband's and we have feasts too. A variety of prime rib, duck, or turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, two kinda of stuffing, pumpkin pie or bread pudding, from scratch green bean casserole or creamed spinach, butterscotch yams, corn, and rolls. (Those rolls do no justice in comparison to Yorkshire pudding an instead just piss me off). Everyone spades over place settings and where to sit and I down a glass of wine to survive. Someone always yells and complains and curses. I get stuck with more dishes than a restaurant, which I hate yet its also kind of zen to scour pans after the holiday rush.

What are your holidays like?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I saw a post about our "babying" of children. It bashed skin to skin time after birth even though it is proven to heal. It bashed other parts of attachment parenting. I "attachment parent" in that I wear my baby and co-sleep which is supposedly evil...an evil that has been around for eons is my guess. It seems western culture bashes it. We hold on to the Victorian notion of a child should be seen not heard.

But yet...I agree with the article, too. When red pens are "damishing self esteem", a 21% becomes a passing grade sofew fail, and everyone gets a sports award just for. Trying....I think we baby and cripple our children. And if your eleven year old has never done dishes, played in the yard, or made a simple meal (think ramen!) There is a problem. When your sixteen year old is treated like an untrustworthy child (teenagers have ruled counties and armies) you do a diservice to our future. When a ten year old knows how to pole dance, but can't make toast, when they can sext but notuse the restroom without supervision, when we tell them to plan for college andact responsibly but we tell them they must wait for passing period to use the restroom...it just seems silly

But that is just my opinionated two cents. Your thoughts?

Monday, November 25, 2013

special ritual

Did you hear? Dunkin Donuts is finally in California!

I am not a huge donut fan...my grandmacould live off of them, and when the time comes for her to pass on, I will remember her as always having a box of donuts nd...for dessert, rainbow sherbert.

Anyway, back to the topic... I don't love donuts, but they do taste good on occasion. I find Krispy Kreme so sweet I shudder, so Dunkin is a nice change.

There is a certain ritual to Dunkin Donuts. Whenever we travel to a place with Dunkin, we buy a dozen and eat however much we can before they go stale. We will go on an adventure in a strange city, looking for donuts and hoping they still have glazed blueberry. Sure, it is heavy, greasy, fake blueberry, processed food, not my usual "thing" but there are always exceptions! I remember getting donuts in Arizona on our honeymoon, and Vegas while 8 months pregnant. A sunny morning in Indiana, and a slushy day in New Hampshire. Their coffee made me feel as hyper as a meth addict, as we once drove I-95, the Jersey-bought cup kept me buzzed and twitchy all the way to Massachusetts.

So this week, my husband who rises before dawn, just might drive over an hour away just toget our fix.

Isn't it weird though...as said, thrir donuts aren't the bes in the world. But the "hunt" for them while travelling, and waking up and finding a box of donuts and hot coffee on the hotel nightstand is special. And a brown box of donuts reminds me of my grandma who was rumored to drive an extra 20 minutes to find the cheapest donuts. So perhaps travelling long distances for mediocre donuts runs in the family.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Place shapes you. Or so is my theory. I am inexplicably fascinated with "place" and the subtleties that make up the place itself and its people.

I can -and do- spend hours perusing google street view to get a peek into someone else's world...Cacaulandia, Brazil or Rostov Oblast, Russia...

I feel like different architectures and landscapes subtly shape us.

If I were raised in an apaato in Tokyo, would I have the same love of a hike through manzanita and granite boulders at treelike like I found near my real-me childhood home? Would the crackle of a fireplace in a log cabin have any special-ness? If I grew up in Acre, Brazil, would I love the quiet of a snowy day? Or would a monsoon rain bring me solace instead?

How does place shape you?

Ways motherhood is like college

You are awake at 3 am, feeling woozy, attending to a whining roommate barfing in the toilet because she drank something mysterious. Except this time around it was a week-old bottle found under the couch rolling around with the dust bunnies, and your roommate is your child.

You chug drinks in two seconds flat. At three in the afternoon. Just now, its mommy's little helper, and you have to schedule your glass of Pinot Grigio around breastfeeding, nap time, soccer practice, and daycare pickup.

You make whoopie in the closet, garage, or wherever you can hide and can strip down faster than you can say s-e-x. But now you just wish a rubber band or sock on the door handle made sense to your toddler who runs in asking where his Elmo doll went.

Ramen is a staple food. Mostly cause it is the quickest meal you can make without toddler meltdown, explosive baby part he, and a child demanding you find their shoes. Now. Seriously, its your only hope at a rare warm meal, if you can call it a meal.

You pull all nighters. Except studying for finals was way easier than attending to sick children or kids who decide it is time to dance to the Wiggles at midnight.
Pajama pants are a fashion statement. Why get dressed?

You flash your boobs a lot and strangers have seen your hoo-ha. Except you don't get beads and beer this time around, just a satisfied baby and hopefully a good pregnancy or Pap smear report from the OB.

There are things that you don't comprehend, making you feel stupid. Instead of Hegelian philosophy, its your toddler screaming something unintelligible as you run around offering a diaper change, cookie, juice, ball, kisses, Tylenol, and a train.

Coffee is your best friend. Still is.

You wake up, roll over, and ask, did I sleep with you last night? Because the little ones might have their own bedroom but mommy and daddy's bed is so much better.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Crunchie goes radioactive

What was that smell? A feeling of déjà vu flooded me based on the smell. It wasn't unpleasant. Mod podge adhesive? No...not spray paint...and why would there be art supplies in the chiropractor's office?

In an attempt to cure my son's chronic ear infections, I've gone outside the box and full on crunchy granola mom, trying chiropractors and holistic medicines. I've just started so I can't say how it's worked.

When I took my son in for his initial chiropractor visit they used a cool taser gun looking thing that detects tightness, blood flow, etc of the spine.

I like cool gadgets like that and I have always had a stiff back so I made an appointment for myself, too.

So today I go in and smell this familiar but misplaced mystery smell. I get the taser thingy and it goes nuts. I lack anatomical knowledge but kinda behind my right breast and left kidney are very tight. I have minor scoliosis, something I knew as a child because they almost gave me a back brace. Actually. I think I qualified for one but my mom scared me with stories of back casts and then the doctor moved and we gave up.

Not only do I have scoliosis but my right leg is longer than my left.

Looks like my son's two minute neck massages are going to be the easy part, I'm a piece of work!

Well, maybe. I have to wait for the X-ray results and taser analysis next week for a plan of action.

That's when it hit me. A dark room! The chiropractor has a dark room for developing X-rays and the cold was making the building all drafty and shrinky and so the dark room chemicals, set up for my X-ray, could be detected.

See, fifteen years ago I took two or was it three years of photography (yep back in my day in high school...) and loved the magic of the dark room. The caustic chemicals and precise timing all spelled disaster, watching an image of odd shapes swim in chemicals until it resembled your photo, the cold dark room where depth perception was lacking, all was a strafe refuge for me . I couldn't wait to get in the darkroom.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

black friday

I am trying to have an open mind about black Friday but my brain keeps screaming, consumerism! Evil!

I had to delve into research to learn the psyche of Black Friday.

I guess people actually...enjoy it?

Some enjoy it because it is like a scavenger hunt, a game for who can find what. In general, I hate games. As a kid, I hated piñatas and public Easter egg hunts because everyone turned into a pack of starving wolves and kids grew claws and stuff. I was the kid left with one piece of candy, crying, because I didn't get why everyone lost their manners and kindness and didn't share. Games showed me the evil of man. I mean sure, I would go all king-fu on you if I were truly starving to death but dude...not over a piece of bubble yum.

Plus my mom ruined games for me because I hated math and to try and get me to like it, my mom said math is like a game. Screw you, math, games, and Black Friday.

But sure. If you are the kid who throws punches and goes all Lord of the Flies over a freakin piñata, ok, Black Friday is fun. While I disagree, I "get" it.

Others say they like the socialization of standing in line overnight or at 4am, you build a bit of community spirit amongst strangers while waiting for the doors to open.

I guess I am a Scrooge cause I don't see "community" in a line at 4 am. I don't see standing in line at 4 am with my Starbucks and even a brought-with-me- BFF as fun. Sure I hear rumor women do this to get time away from kids. As a woman who doesn't even pee, sleep, or shower without a child tugging on my leg, I dream of time without kids. I'm just not sure a line outside Best Buy at midnight is any better. But again, I "get" that some find it fun. Just not me.

I know others struggle financially enough that the only way there is Christmas is at 80% off on Black Friday and I feel blessed that is not my case. But my own family struggled and so I might get a hand me down or yard sale item. Are we so consumer driven that little Billy must get a brand new Xbox? Maybe I am missing something. Please enlighten me. But I had students once, many who were well below the poverty line and I bought each child in my classroom a 99 cent toy. Some came to me later,in tears of joy because their family had canceled Christmas yet again. My little gift was their only gift an they were so happy. Think about that, folks, when you beat one another over the last Xbox your kid HAS to have.

Others love shopping and find shopping and crowds thrilling. I hate shopping after about an hour, on a Tuesday morning in February. I did Black Friday once (at ten am) and I really craved a martini in the middle of Target. Or a shank. Or a portal to a yoga studio. I am a total introvert (who'd have guessed?) and so crowds are totally draining and panic attack inducing. I "get" that some actually like it but for me? Hell no.

What are your thoughts on Black Friday? Love it? Hate it?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dodging a bullet

I dodged a bullet in a gang fight.
True story.

I was clubbing with friends in Hollywood and the bars were closing so we decided to hop in the car and head home. I'm not sure why we drove West on Sunset instead of East, towards home, but all roads connect to freeways that lead home I guess.

We were stuck in the party rush hour I two in the morning, stopped at a stoplight by a gas station. Bored of traffic and tired of being cramped in the back seat, I stared out the window to entertain myself. Outside my window was a corner gas station and a sedan was parked by a station. No big deal, regular sight. A dark suburban sped in from the road parallel to us and screeched to a halt behind the sedan. Some large baggy pants men leaped out, engine still running. The light a car ahead of us was red. One man reached out and rat-a-tat-tat, gunfire echoed out in automatic rapid fire at the sedan, as its passengers hopped I to the car.

The light was still red. We were stuck and everyone knows if you shoot one handed and sideways to look all cool and gang banger-y, you cannot get proper aim. Our car was probably 20 feet and 30 degrees outside the barrel of the handgun. I screamed "duck!" As if ducking would save us; I guess it was sheer instinct. Just then the light turned green and cars slowly moved forward.

Maybe it was little old small town me, but it seemed like the city folk were too calm, as if this was a daily occasion. "Oh, Maria, look, gunfire. You know, I am in the mood for a Big Gulp." "Sorry John, I didn't hear that over the gunfire can you repeat it?"

I feel very lucky the gang banger could aim, and this didn't shoot us, and that he was a crappy shot because when I daringly looked back, there were no men down. So everyone lived.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The doll house

It was there, I swear to you. On one of the sharp turns of the crumbking, barely there road hugging a steep hill, was the doll house. Life sized, a real house, it stood in a wooded crevice, half burned down but still quite there. It stood, whole, just burnt around the edges like how time can age and burn the edges of paper in very old books. The beige paint was chipped with age, covering a two story home that was the carnival freak show meets fairy tale version of the houses we drew as kids; square with a triangle on top. The trim was scalloped and featured painted tulips, yep, that's the fairy tale freak show part, a Hansel and Gretel replica rubbed black with embers from an unknown tragedy.

To be frank, it freaked me out. I had heard rumor of a haunted house in town called the doll house, so I decided this must be it. Just driving past it made your hair stand at end. The macabre in me wanted to go back and take pictures, as if to prove to the world, look what a creepy thing I found! But i couldn't do it, I was too chicken to go back on my own.

Months later, my husband suggested we go check it out. He was the scout without me, and came back and told me,"It is gone. I can't find it". Whaaaaaat? I demamded he take me down that street. I could find it, i insisted. I mean , on a nearly deserted dirt road with all of, what, 5, 10 houses, it wasn't hard to miss. So we embarked and went down the street slowly, both to be safe (it was a both ways but one way wide road with the forest taking it back) and to look for the damned house. We didn't see it, and we turned around and went back...nope...no doll house. No foundation or crumbling chimney, driveway, or even a flat clearing where a house could have been. Nothing. I had seem home ruins from fifty, hundred years ago that still showed some remnants of habilitation. nothing. nowhere a house could even have been. Nothing.

I am still seeking an explanation for this phenomenon.

Monday, November 18, 2013

First car

Ahhh the joys of a first car.

I was that nerdy high schooler who rode the bus senior year. Sure, I had friends with cars but they all lived west of the high school and I lived east. And I didn't have a car, barely even a permit.

See, my dad refused to teach me to drive and my mom worked full time. Add in the fact that I was stuck in the theater till 5, 6, etc most nights (drama geek, gotta problem with that?) and I barely learned to drive.

i was taught to drive a 64' Chevy. Well my friend tried to teach me stick in her truck, Emmy Lou but I have still yet to master a manual, I no longer burn the clutch but I do still stall out.

Anyway, so I barely learned to drive and then I ended up having to take driving lessons in college - embarrassing. But, let me tell you that power steering is a God send. Try driving windy mountain roads in a 64 Chevy! This student driver Hyundai was a dream! Until I was instructed in my first lesson to drive into an unfamiliar place and onto...the freeway! Sure, I could maneuver a 20 degree hairpin on a 15% incline while holding my pet cat, dodging boulders, and twisting the Chevy steering wheel three times around but a freeway?!?! I promptly had a panic attack and that lesson stopped right then and there.

In college I rode my bike everywhere. This was before hipsters came around, before it was cool to save Earth and ride a bike, man. I was the only one on campus with a bike.

My senior-going-into-more schooling year summer, I took a class to learn Japanese at a community college 20 miles way. So Cal isn't exactly the Mecca for public transportation, but my friend was taking a morning class there. So he would drive from home, take a 20 minute detour to get me, and we went to school together. His class was at 8:00 am, mine at 4:00pm.
Hanging out on campus all day wasn't gonna work.

Some deceased relative's property was going for sale and my grandma wanted to just get rid of it, and my mom suckered me into accompanying her on the transfer, with promise for lunch (omg food, off campus!) so I went. The property was to be turned into an impound lot and already had a few cars there.
One was an Acura, going for $3,000. The soon to be property owners wanted to get it off their hands and not have to send it to auction. I needed a car and while 3 grand was cheap (but above our price range) it had under 100k miles and actually worked! And it wasn't a Lima bean green machine. See I was convinced my first car would be a Lima bean green station wagon from the 70s so to see an early 90s Acura was heaven. Except my mom didn't want to help buy it.

Much convincing and begging ensued and suddenly we pulled up, property transfer docs in hand, transferred the property and bought a car.

I had to clean it out. It was a mess! But boy the things I found...enough history to convince me to order new plates to ensure I wouldn't get shot in some gang drug just. See, the truck contained a duffel bag and letters from prison! Also, some buddy call girl cards, handcuffs, fuzzy dice, and banana flavored condoms. There was no stereo just a gaping "the stereo was totally ripped out and stolen" hole. It came with a 89' Honda key. It had two alarm systems, one that sometimes went off for no apparent reason and would not stop- mechanics couldn't seem to figure out how to stop or remove it, so there was the occasional time I would roll down the freeway with the wee-ooh alarm honking and lights flashing. The a/c was broken and the windshield wipers only worked if you pushed the change-the-time button.

It had dents all over, but it was mine! I got the a/c to work by jamming a cocktail umbrella into the air filter.

This car was a lovely awesome car thought because she was mike and one day, she WAS a beauty I just knew it. Just like Anna Nicole! And she was reliable and got me through Mexico and all around So Cal and never stranded me.

I do certainly enjoy my new, reliable cars but part of me will always pine away for my first car and all her quirks.

She ended up being a rescuer...a friend went through her fiancée death and a car in the shop so she got Anna for a week. Another friend needed a car so there was Anna to fill in. When I finally got rid of her, she went to one of my mom's former students who was hard up and needed a car.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

whips and chains

So I was into pen pals as a teen (and even my very early 20s) and a pen pal lived in Hollywood, about an hour or so from my university. I had only been to LA maybe three times and never Hollywood, so I was in for visiting her. I hopped into my hoopdie (I don't know how to spell that..but my first car was certainly a hoopdie) and into the dark winding freeway system of L.A. my music crackling through my "stereo system", a walkman and one computer speaker balancing precariously in the passenger seat. My eclectic music tastes were in full swing that night; my rock and roll self was singing along to r&b (Alicia Keyes) and J-pop (Utada Hikaru)... I was quite a scene and wasn't even near Holly-weird yet!

I pulled up to some third world looking apartment (A year later and three apartment buildings in Hollywood later, i surmised all apartments there reeked of piss, booze, ramen, and despair) and went to meet my pen pal. Little did I know the plans for the night.....

I was naive. I was yet to dodge a bullet in a gang fight (true story) or see gothic mimes sodomise each other (yep true story) or watch a homeless man have convulsions on the sidewalk (I was unable to stop and help and still feel bad). Needless to say, I hadn't "discovered" Hollywood yet. So she decided we'd walk a few blocks to a club.

You think I would get scared away from clubs. After a Filipino stalker who found me at three clubs, and after walking into a Mexican strip club, and after babysitting my room mate who had taken extasy and elephant tranquilizers...yeah you would think I would say no to clubbing but I was open minded. Or stupid.

We end up in a goth club and I was like, hmm, a cultural experience. I have nothing against goths. It is all good.

I ordered some cheap drink (oddly they were just..drinks.. No "existential Martinis or coffin margaritas or anything) and kinda did my best to blend into a scene I didn't quite fit in to.

And then..the stage lights dimmed and...some zombie sex carnival ensured. They were dressed like a masquerade yet "dark and so gothic" and in barely there lingerie. With umm..prosthetic...sexy parts. I did my best to hide my shame and shock when the mime type goths stared to sodomize each other to the rhythm of industrial goth tunes.

I stood, aghast, rubbernecking because it was so God awful I had to look but wanted to look away. I couldn't avert my eyes.

And that's when I discovered gothic mine sodomy.

Needless to say, I didn't learn my Hollywood lesson but I did stay away from that club.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

food is good

I had a favorite restaurant. Had. Teresa's Cafe in Indio California. We would drive well over an hour, often into the sweltering 110 and above heat just for lunch.

I am a Mexican food snob but this place was epic. You know the antiquated idea of a grandma slaving over cast iron, stirring food made from complete scratch, with a secret ingredient...total love and devotion for the food at hand, and the tradition and process of making it, like her grandma taught her? Yeah. It was that kind of place. Lardy beans and rich but simple flavors that were like a giant embrazo, a hug on a plate. Total comfort food.

Sadly, the recession hit and a generations old restaurant, Teresa's, shut down. I have not been satisfied since.

But I did have a good burrito this week, miles and milesfrom Teresa's. It was not Teresa's. I hope to some day fill the hole from the loss. But....the chile relleno burrito...satiated me. It as said was not Teresa's. But...it tasted...decent. good enough that I will go back.

So since my Teresa's craving is yet to be fufilled, I decided to crave the burrito since it, well, exists. But my husband wasn't in the mood for it. We went to the in-laws and my brother in law brought home some fusion food leftovers...Korean-Mexican. Ok I am actually bot a fan of Korean. Sorry folks. And I had Korean at a place in the bay area known by Koreans for their food...the kind of place where nothing is in English and you just point to order, eat, sign the check...all without language. But...my love of food (and hankering for Mexican) got me interested enough to try it.

Sheer disappointment. Not that I wanted Korean flavor but it didn't even have a Koreanflavor. And Mexican? Please folks. Taco Bell flavors are not Mexican. They are an insult. The food had that old stsle super greasy carnival food taste. Totally the food you want at 2am in college, drunker than a skunk. But that's not me. And four tons of cheddar cheese is not mexican food folks. Gimme that panrla, queso fresco, or cotija. But cheddar? No. Not Mexican. Basically it was a lump of flavorless fried cheddar with bits of bland chicken. Like an over fried Taco Bell quesadilla.

So I am still on the quest to replace Teresa's. My mom and husband need Teresa's, too. Even some oil magnates from the Middle East have bragged about Teresa's. So the world is not complete without Teresa's

Friday, November 15, 2013

More book arts

I have added pages to the altered book I am making...so here are some photos.

(Yeah...not feeling like blogging much)

Sorry if the photos are sideways and such.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gunpowder girl

The tinny farty scent of gunpowder reminds me of childhood.

My parents loved to go to the yearly "Rendesvous" a few-week long camp in the woods. Accessible only by dirt road, adding to the pre Civil War flair of the event. You could stay there the whole time or be a daytime guest on the weekends. My parents chose to be visitors.

The camp had no modern conveniences and thus was like a trip back in time. I employed dressing all Little House on the Prairie and remember most the smell of campfire, sweat, gunpowder, and dust. I liked to nibble on jerky and browse the stalls looking at canteens and turquoise beads.
My dad was interested in gun smithing and got some gunpowder, which ended up siting around because pre civil war guns ended up being a cool idea and idea only. My mom of course didn't want gunpowder just sitting around so she told him to rid of it. He decided exploding some seemed like a great way to rid of it and after the windows shook, the pet peacocks squawked, and a cloud of smoke engulfed the house through the open windows, my mom decided he could keep the gunpowder safely stored away.

Except that my Tom boy self thought the gunpowder do soon was really cool.

Somehow my introverted self was anything but in first grade and I had lots of gal pals. When I would invite a new friend over, I wanted to be cool and show off, but generally kids are t I pressed by the nerdy skills I possessed. Hey Julie look I can read a fifth grade book! Hey Amanda do you know the scientific names of the trees in the yard? Yeah...

So I thought if I liked explosions so would they!

For some odd reason, many friends who came over to my house came over just once. Apparently they didn't share my love of. Gunpowder

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Made in Japan

I was awaken to someone gently shaking me and calling my name, a familiar voice. I squinted open an eye and saw an unfamiliar futon and small room; I began to come to and remembered I had arrived in Japan a few hours, days, minutes ago...I wasn't sure. I hadn't even known I'd fallen asleep. The weirdest thing was, I was visiting a pen pal and yet here was my college roomate's high school forms waking me up. I had last seem him back in America, at a college party. We were good friends and umm...sometimes a. It more when tipsy. I knew he, K, knew my pen pal, M. She visited me and I introduce the two. Sure just cause they're both Japanese they will get along? No...that wasn't my thought, just hey M here are my friends and oh, K is from Japan. Anyways. My point is I had no clue they kept in contact so suddenly being awaken by a friend who was my friend back home seemed familiar except that it was in an unfamiliar place and time, totally unexpected.

It was New Years Eve, "the" holiday in Japan, so we set out to the club district of Shinjuku. My jet lag was in full swing, an foreign tongues, bright lights, and everything and crowded, mixed with some alcohol and familiar but misplaced faces made it all the more surreal.

I got hungry and we popped into a 7-11, yet another familiar but misplaced thing, eating Cup O Noodles in a dark drug-area alley beneath a love hotel.

It was some time between two and five in the morning and subways don't operate at that hour. I have been to so many cities where public transportation ends right when people who best not be driving are, well, stuck driving. Well, a license in Japan is expensive, cars impractical, so we were stuck. I think we wandered the streets until dawn. Think.

See, Japan is all kind of a blur. I know I didn't sleep on the plane, but I blocked it all out of memory. I remember the customs sign at the airport and then suddenly I was at M's friend's apartment with K shaking me awake.

I remember the next day, eating at Yoshinoya, and having only the equivalent of $50 on me (which gets you nowhere in Japan) and finding out everything is pretty much closed for the week of New Years. Week? No way to get money for a week? This was not in the travel guides.

Luckily the airport was the one place within a hundred miles with he capability for me to cash in my travel checks, so I had to bum money off friends to afford the train ride to the airport.

I fell asleep on the train. I remember it was very crammed but I had managed to find a seat and I slumped into my suitcase, hundreds of strangers this close to me, also nodding asleep in Tokyoite fashion.

I don't remember the cash exchange.

See, Japan was like one big case of amnesia.

I sang karaoke in a karaoke bar. I are ramen, the real stuff not the freeze dried junk, in a restaurant no bigger than my bathroom, where you ordered your food from a vending machine but her got food from a real chef a few inches away. The restaurant was tucked under the freeway...like...under...

I shopped the big new year sales where pubescent rave-looking, platinum blond irks screamed things in Japanese at a pitch I think only dogs could hear.

I crossed the road in those huge sidewalks where a thousand people cross at one time.

I visited a sex shop in an alley, the store smaller than my closet (no I didn't buy anything and I felt like I really sent belong there).

I unknowingly ate crab brains and horse tongue in a bar/grill place.

I encountered many weird statues like foxes and Buddhas just tucked into the corners all over Tokyo.

I started to understand the subway maps after just three days.

For some reason the huge expanse d Tokyo, with all its high rises and masses if people and urban sprawl as far as the eye can see, seemed...not so much. It was again that amnesia, to where Tokyo seemed no more than downtown Los Angeles. Even New York City seemed waaaay bigger.

I went to many temples, got my fortune told (but no one would translate for me) ate fried who knows what, and attended a tea ceremony-an honor, but I liked the vending machine tea better. Vending machines, with hot tea and coffee!

I took the worlds slowest train to Kyoto, stopping at every city, town,two horse outpost. I took the bullet train back to Tokyo.

Sure this travelogue is disjointed but really, it represents Japan for me...my memories were little vignettes of this and that. And it was only ten years ago!


Got my subscription to ancestry.com so I am having nerd time looking stuff up.

Yup. That's my exciting post today...it counts, right?

I am wikling to look people up, btw.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book art post #2

I posted a few days ago about the book I am making.

I did some more art...it is a slow process and plus there aren't any art supplies within 45 min of home so I am using what I have...so some things just aren't getting done yet.

As said in my previous post, I am doing an altered book based on the song "46&2" by the band Tool (song is linked in my other post)

Here is my most recent art for the book...(nablopomo and yeah write this was publishe 11/11 except my phone didn't tell me it didn't post until 11/12. Honest.)


Elmo is a cute fuzzy muppet monster. A monster. A scary monster from Hell.

My mother in law bought an Elmo cash register toy for my son for his birthday last year and he loved it....until the dog decided to pee all over it in the middle of the night. Being the middle of the night and in the forest, I was a) too tired to clean it or properly dispose of it b) did not feel like fending off bears in the outside garbage can. So, I simply opened the door (mumbling yuck pee eew...) and tossed it outside over the deck.

I was 9 months pregnant, so hiking down our steep side yard to actually throw it away seemed undesirable and I figured next time we cleaned the yard.

All night, the Elmo toy mumbled, "pizza two dollars"; luckily you could not hear it from inside. The next day and night, pizza two dollars. After 48 hours of this, it rained and the Elmo toy died.

Or so we thought.

Two months later, my husband let the dogs out to pee and he comes back in, shaking his head, "Elmo is alive!"

And later that night, Elmo must have run out of batteries.

Or not.

About a week ago, our dog was standing on the deck, catatonic, like he does if there is a bear or cougar in the neighborhood. Not wanting to encounter a hungry animal, I scream at him to get the **** inside when...I hear, you guessed it, "pizza two dollars". This went on for two days straight.

And guess what I heard this morning? Hell-mo and his pizza.
I have never replaced the batteries on a year old, often played with Hell-mo toy from Hell. It has been chanting about pizza, without being touched, for days and days. It isn't supposed to. "Talk" without being touched. It isn't supposed to work for days and days at end.
I think it's possessed.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kicked out of our favorite restaurant

Today We have to descent 4,000 fretful feet to go to urgent care (because my populated mountain area, 30,000+ people doesn't have urgent care) This means added pressure to my son's ears and lots of crying. My youngest has just a cold and elevation can still mess with colds so both were screaming.

After the 1,000,000th ear infection diagnosis in my not-even-three-yet son's life, we were told the prescription would take an hour to fill. That's when I realized I hadn't eaten in almost seven hours. I was fine with just eating some crappy fast food garbage in the car but my husband said we'd go to our favorite Chinese place...besides, my son loves their food. Well apparently my husband claimed I sent him psychic messages that disclaimed my statement of "don't care. Hungry. Screaming kids. Food good. Burger King right there" and that I really meant "take me to Chinese".

Sure...I will almost always take fresh not-Panda-Express greasy Americana to fast food always...so I preferred it but was just hungry and wanted to eat quick, in the car where kids could wail.

Anyway....so we go to our favorite Chinese place, a hole in the wall where we have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, even Christmas (or was it Easter?) once. We are such regulars that on my oldest son's birthday they brought him cake, and even have hand fed him when they saw me juggle two kids and a hungry old me.

Well today we get there as they finish staff lunch so they swept fish bones off our table (true story!) and took our order. And then...oldest wanted chopsticks and cried. Then he dropped them and cried. The youngest woke and cried. Then oldest got into high pitched banshee screen hysterics and littlest joined in. Oldest refused to eat a bite. Littlest was starved and so I had to pop out natures bottles (yep my boob) to try and appease him, at which perfect timing a stodgy old man walked past and gave me the dirtiest look. Then oldest decided to climb on my head, knock his brother off my boob, then head butt me at which point my Irish temper came out and I yelled (loud enough that the entire restaurant turned our way)?"ouch stop it!" At which point my husband demanded the check and to go boxes, as we each had maybe three bites into the meal. Even our favorite waitress was giving us the evil eye and they greeted us at the exit door with the check, basically saying pay and get the hell out.

It was a lovely day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

tears for ears

My toddler might have an ear infection. He had a chronic one from 6 months old to one year. Then he got tubes and "only" got ear infections every 6 weeks. Then at two he got tubes again and if this is an ear infedtion he has got, it will be the fourth...I think...since his tube and adenoid surgery 8 months ago. I am at my wit's end. He was to have a third set of tubes last week but I canceled the surgery. Tubes or not, he gets ear infections, major hearing loss, and speech delays.
I have thought of elimination diets, no wheat or dairy. But if it weren't for cheese, milk, yogurt, crackers...all he'd eat would be apples, bananas, and sausage. He eats aybe 500 calories a day and is only 24 lbs , 18 month pants fall off of him and he is almost three. So I cannot feed him any less. So I am not sure what to do.

UPDATE, its an ear infection...a BAD one. He is just cupping his ear and sobbing :(

Friday, November 8, 2013

Don't turn a blind eye

I don't bring in politics, history, etc into my blog but I read something recently that affected me greatly. Just like No Country for Old Men totally ruined my valentine's Day, my day was ruined. In fact, I had to read it over two days just to be able to handle it. I didn't want to read any of it, the pit in my stomach got all sour and tears welled up and I felt physically ill. I didn't want to read another word or see another image. But I knew I had to keep reading and had to show it to others.

I suggest everyone on earth (ok everyone. With Internet access and knowledge of English) read this. But I warn it will seriously ruin your day and you might say, why the f&@* did I read this?
That is exactly why. If we cannot emotionally attach ourselves to something so awful, we won't recognize when it is happening and we won't do a thing to stop it.

I am talking about genocide.

And it is still happening today, in places like North Korea, Darfur, and more. And we do nothing but turn a blind eye because it isn't our children or neighbors. But it could be.

So I encourage you to read the link to the following blog that ruined my day (link at very end of this post).

I know back in my day in school, we didn't learn a thing about the Khmer Rouge. Heck we didn't even learn about the Vietnam War. I asked my teacher why and he said "it isn't current enough to be a current event or old enough to be history", so we ignored any events from about 1950-1990. So I know most people my age know little if anything about the Khmer Rouge.

I know a family who survived it. The husband once told us his story in secrecy, in broken English. I won't recount it were or give their identity, but I will say this link made their story even more real and VCR versa. Suddenly, genocide got a little to real.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

book arts

I am doing a few art projects at once, all book arts. One is an altered book. You get a book, glue pages together to make thick pages, and "alter" it, paint it, add mixed media,whatever. This is my first attempt at an altered book.

It is taking forever and will take months to complete because...here is the process...

1. find a book with a hard cover and sewn binding with folded signatures, that is in good condition and a good size....whatever size you are looking for.

2. Get a general idea/theme

                         (1 and 2 are interchangeable, for this book I did #2 first)

3. Plan out the thickness and number of pages. plan twice because you want it right, kind of like "measure twice cut once". So for example I scribbled down "page 1, 4 pages thick, page 2, same, page 3, 8 pages thick". I am cutting a small hole on page 3 and wanted added stability.

4. Plan out a more specific idea like "page 1 will be......"

                       (3 and 4 are interchangeable, too....I did #4 before #3.)

5. Make double certain you know thickness of pages. Also if you are cutting things, decide if to glue first or cut first...almost always, you glue first.  Oh and here is where signatures matter....a signature begins (or ends) where you can see the - - - - part of the sewn binding in the seam, or where the pages all fold together like a smooshed V and its the top V. Rip out the top V to thin your book. rip out a few v's.

6. Start gluing. For my book most pages were 4 thick so I would apply glue to a page, smear with an old credit card, use bone folder to press a page on top, repeat, repeat, cover pages in plastic wrap/wax paper/ziploc bag so glue doesn't stick to the wrong things, let dry, repeat for all pages. I have 29 pages. That's a lot of gluing and waiting.

7. add gesso to cover the print if that is your kind of thing. Maybe you want a word or sentence on each page to be seen, the rest not, then add masking tape (not the hardware store kind, special removable craft kind)  use post-it sticky paper over the words you want to "keep" and then go gesso-crazy. One layer does a cool kinda translucent white. More layers cover, well, more stuff but also make the pages and book thicker so you must remove more top V signatures or else your right angled book becomes kind of....round.    You do not have to do gesso at all. You can add paint to your gesso to make it colorful. It is up to you.   But let gesso dry, using plastic wrap to protect what you do not want gesso-ed or what does not need gesso that very second. This, like gluing,takes forever. A week in and I still have 11 pages to glue and gesso.

8. Cut whatever needs cutting

9. Start decorating with paint, collaged paper, mixed media, stamps, string, feathers, you name it.

10. Voila, done.

So I have 29 pages to decorate (once glued and gesso-ed) and some have cuts.... for example one page looks kind of like a book safe with a square hole/cubby cut in. Some pages are shaped like the sqiggles on a topographical map, but 3-d and they make a hole. Some are shaped like parts of a house. Ok all that has yet to be done but I'm getting to it!

I got all out of order and started my book in the middle, gluing and gesso-ing backwards and forwards....this is not advised as your pages get too warped and you get confused "where" you are and what you are doing.

OH!!! big oh!!! when you glue pages,,,glue them, wrap in plastic, and close the book, weighing it down to attempt to straighten your pages or they will be super wavy and your book will end up fat and warped because glue is wet. Gesso is wet. They wrinkle paper.No matter what, you get wrinkles but the less, the better.

Here is the big reveal.
My book will contain the lyrics to 46&2 by the band Tool.

The middle of the book has ribs. My mom asked, "ribs? What are ribs?????" I hadn't an answer. What are ribs? Well, they are ribs inside me but they are paper ribs in a book. Bone ribs of paper. It seemed so simple but yet hard to explain. "Ribs, like...ribs. Ribs are ribs!" I wanted to yell.

So I had to finish my gluing, gesso-ing, cutting, and add words and voila, ribs. I had to take a picture to be all, "mom, ribs. Like I told you!"

Except my pen ran out of ink partly through. And being in a small town, nothing but 7-11 is open past dinner time and they do not sell fine tipped permanent marker-pens.

So here are the song lyrics and music video thingy and then my art. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Insert title here

I have many things to blog about but I am fighting a cold and now it looks like the toddler has it, praying the baby doesn't get it.

In unrelated news, I bought a house plant today. I keep meaning to and finally did.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Taking back what's mine

I am going to tell the therapist, " it's over between us, it's not you, it's me" and I will mean every word.

My son is lined up for an IEP for a hearing-loss-caused speech delay. I fought for months to get him in and now as the initial IEP approaches, I am removing him.

What what what?

Wait a minute, you're a teacher for Christ's sake!

You can't do that!

It is wrong and damaging!

For reasons I won't get into much (or else this post will become 100 pages long) I know what is best for my son and I also don't want an IEP....because..."this will go down on your permanent record". Let's just give an executive summary. I have a Master's in Education and ten years experience, and am choosing to help my son at home without an IEP. My aunt is a top-in-state language acquisition professional, another aunt works at a special needs pre-school, my best friend was a pre-school teacher as was I. Together, we can do it. And additionally, I do not want a P - 20 SLDS paperwork trail (the permanent record) used as preferential treatment or against him in the future. I know enough that the system exists that at the click of a button, it could do just that. I know because I managed those systems in a previous job.

I have a huge billboard-sized disclaimer here. I am a special ed, IEP advocate. I just am exercising free will and the like and making a decision for my child and my child alone.

I am ignoring all professional opinion and going with my gut.

It isn't easy. I have tortured myself in the wee hours of night going back and forth over this, Ive talked to family and friends, I have prayed about it and still feel some trepidation but....do I need to justify my actions? I'm doing it....because. And it ain't easy.

On a related note, just like I feel standardized tests don't give an accurate picture of a child, neither does the developmental assessment. Playing 20 questions paints a crappy picture of my child. Just because he doesn't refer to himself by name does not mean he is a "year behind" because it ignores the fact that he refers to himself as "I", a skill one or two years ahead. Just because he doesn't know boy from girl doesn't make him "behind" especially when, oops, I have yet to explicitly teach him about gender. I didn't know such an arbitrary skill labels him as "behind"

What about what he CAN do? He kicks a ball like a 5 year old, recognizes most of his letters, can count items to five, and can use my nook and wii console with Netflix better than some adults. He shares and shows compassion to all living things. He has a great sense of humor. But these aren't assessed.

I know my son has a speech delay, but he is anything but "behind" or less than.

(anyone have good suggestions on apps, websites, books, etc for my son to work with? I have one that spells 3 letter words, phonetically...kkk ah t = c a t cat and he loves it and even tries to sound out each phoneme.....perfect!)

(listen to about.....1:00-1:15 for the pertinent part of the video)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tapestry from the dark side

My mother and grandmother love to collect "treasures", used stuff from yard sales that might be of value or use. 1950s British pram? Check. Woolen pea coats? Quadruple check. Used chain link fencing, used wrapping paper, leather stirrups, engagement rings, apple coring tools and gravy boats? Check.

I usually end up with a bunch of these worthless pieces of...err.. I mean "treasures", in addition to stuff that I owned and thought I trashed or sold at a yard sale years ago. Might I have a use for all my baby teeth, a fake fur kitty costume from 1988, notebooks from middle school? Yeah I don't think so either.

These "treasures" flow my way every holiday or family visit, and as is customary and cordial, some of it has to go into use to appease the family. One of those items was a tapestry. In college, all the cool alternative kids had tapestries in their dorm, accumulated from their trust fund funded trip to India, tapestries which matched their manic panic purple streamed hair and laissez faire attitude. I wanted a tapestry. I wanted to be a cool kid.

So my mom found me probably a dozen tapestries and is still, over ten years later, trying to pilfer them off to me because I made the fatal mistake of displaying one of them years later, in my home. It was probably 4 x 8 feet and had a gorgeous scene of a camel caravan and oasis in mustardy yellows and verdant teals which went with our colorful accent tiles on the fireplace. So for once, I actually liked a "treasure" and liked it even after I was unable to attain cool status in college.

Strange things started to occur, loss of employment, bad health, huge family fights. It seemed my husband and I had found ourselves a streak of bad luck we couldn't shake off. We just kept getting into predicaments, enough that it was comical if you had that dark of humor...but to us it wasn't funny.

On a spring cleaning frenzy, I took the tapestry off to clean the wall behind it and my husband suggested something absurd. "Get rid of the tapestry. I figured it out. Our bad luck....it...the tapestry has bad mojo". I am one who does believe in the possibility of the supernatural, so a tapestry with negative energy seemed both uproarious and a real possibility. So I had mixed emotions as I put the beautiful but possessed art into the garbage bin. But you know what? Our luck really did seem to turn around after we got rid of the tapestry. Coincidence? I don't know.

So yesterday my mom calls me because my grandma has a tapestry for me; my mom having noticed I must have "tired of that tapestry on the wall and put it away". This one was to match our decor even better, she said.

So I didn't quite have the heart to say I trashed it, but I also didn't want more tapestries to clutter up my house or God forbid have bad luck attached to them. So I fibbed and said, "nah...I do not want another tapestry. That one we had, had bad energy so we put it out for free in the yard with some other things."

She about lost her cool. "You whaaaaaaat?" She yelled "Ypu gave it away? For free? That was worth thousands of dollars!"(just like the $400 cook book sold on Amazon for $35...) she kind of growled under her breath and continued, "you should have sold it on eBay or given it back to me. I can't believe you. I am hesitant to ever give you a damned thing again. I can't believe you." I tried to justify it, that I would feel immoral selling someone something with bad energy, but she seemed to not care if the tapestry might cause one to kill small kittens, it was worth thousands!!!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

art craze

I have decided to get back to doing art. With two kids 2 & under, going places...sucks. So my wanderlust must be put on the back burner ...so, enter art. ......................(like how blogger and nook don't get along? Yeah me Neither so here is my paragraph break).................................So I have four projects I am working on. Two are accordion books which can fold out like those Japanese room dividers (but more mantle top sized), as gifs for my parents. They will be about "lessons and memories" personalized to each parent, with collage, mixed media, and painted backgrounds. Another, an accordion book as well, is again mixed media collage based on a very nice nature themed poem. The last is an altered book based on the song lyrics to "46&2" by Tool. This one is my main focus, as it takes time and patience to glue pages together and smather them in gesso...an hour or so per page for the glue to dry, and then another hour or so for the gesso. Then and only then are the pages ready to decorate. ........................This means our garage is becoming a multi purpose/art room because our mahogany table and granite countertops need not be slathered in paint and glue!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Happy trees

Remember the painter guy on TV from the 80s with the hair fro? May he rest in peace with his happy little trees. See, I have always loved doing art (both my parents are artists) and as a small child, I totally loved watching him paint. So..to that, yay art!

Anyways, strange art (not as strange as that poop Virgin Mary) amuses me, the semi-absurd makes my day so in honor of absurdity and the happy trees guy, here is something that made my day...on my way to my son's preschool, I found a happy little tree. He (the tree) actually has two eyeballs but I didn't feel like stopping my car on a blind corner to snap a pic so I did my best attempt (hence one eyeball) from a safer location. I was so amused, I made my husband drive with me to pick up our son, just so he could see the happy tree.

Next time someone visits, I just have to tell them to turn left at the happy tree!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The b*tch witch

I pine away for the olden days of Halloween, where droves of kids wanders the dark streets, dressed up in (not prostitute-y) clothing, gorging themselves on candy.

Halloween has gone too p.c. and too....totally un-fun in my eyes. So let me be a b*tch (and a witch, which is what I was for Halloween) and give my overly opinionated take on Halloween as it stands today.

I for one am banning the "switch witch" from my house, some godawful creation I just got privy to last week. (FYI, I do indeed live under a rock.) in case you, too., live under a rock, there's some cheesy poem and she is like Elf on a Shelf (another thing I loathe, see http://disorderlywanderlustblog.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-patriot-elf-act_16.html?m=1) and..ok so there is a poem and she takes candy. But in attempt to use propaganda techniques to get kids I relinquish their prized sweets, she "loves candy so much she will take your offerings and give you a toy...the more candy, the better the toy". Or something like that.

Some might sing her praises but I for one, won't. I already get my son enough damned toys and I am tired of there now being Easter presents and Valentines presents and now Halloween presents. Back in my day, those days meant candy, and maybe a super cheap stuffed bunny. Not a gaming console or new Nikes or whatever. That is what Christmas is for! And secondly, while I know the cavity filled dangers of gorging yourself on candy, YOLO folks, you only live once, so my son will be keeping and devouring and possibly vomiting up all his candy. To quote Garfield, "candy candy candy" which will probably be released in some new 2013 version, "broccoli broccoli broccoli". Arse-holes.

Second, "trunk or treat" another "thing" my sheltered rock self just found out a kit two days ago. I guess it is where a community/school/church ropes off a parking lot, parks cars, and has trunks full of candy, ring toss games, etc. It is focused on being non-scary and fun for ages 1 to 101. Oh and often it is held on days other than Halloween as a "Halloween alternative" for the Anti Halloween crowd...cause nothin' says anti-Halloween like costumes and candy.

Why am I against this wholesome family fun activity? Am I some curmudgeon, some evil Scrooge? No, I am quite the opposite!

See, first, candy out of trunks just seems a little too..."come into my dark windowless molester van, I have candy" for me. Second, part of the fun of trick or treating is, well, trick or treating...walking down a dark pathway on a spooky night and waiting for either a goblin to pounce you (or mountain lions in my neck of the woods) or the door to open and some lady to give you handfuls of candy. There is suspense, anticipation, danger, and fun all rolled into one, which a well-lit, non-scary parking lot of open trunks seems to rid of.

Now sure, I know there are parent unable to take their kids door to door, so trunk or treat is a good alternative. Or maybe you are too paranoid and can't let your kid go door to door, but what happened to the one sucker per mom group who ended up either waking a dozen kids door to door or sloooowly driving down the street, eyes on the kids all ninja sniper style as they paraded around?

And not-scary? Sure, my kids scared to death would be no fun but as I reflect back, those were some cool memories of my own. Like when a "fortune teller" told me something bad would happen at midnight and I stayed up till midnight, pacing, too scared to tell my parents, only to feel sooo relieved at midnight when all was ok. Or the haunted house that I knew was fake. It that scared my friend so much that it spawned some cool ghost hunting adventures the next summer.

This Halloween, my child went to preschool in costume and had candy and hot dogs. For lunch. Teacher approved. We went door to door on a blustery dark night. We did it right and I hope we scared that switch witch away!

P.s. if this says it posted 11/2 it posted 11/1 and I edited a typo on 11/2

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No you inside

"No, you inside!" Demands my toddler as I ask him kindly to come inside. I am cold, his baby brother is cranky and hungry, and I cringe each time he runs into the grass where dog poo tends to hide.

And then, once I drag him in, kicking and screaming, I nearly kick myself. Foster his love of the outdoors, you idiot, I scream to myself, inside my brain. (Does anyone else yell at themselves in their head?)

I end up reminiscing about my own childhood, a big reason why I moved back near home once I had kids. I loved the outdoors and hated being inside, I mean, inside is soooo boooring! I didn't own a gaming console and we only had a few tv channels. Outside was where it was at! I recall twilight as the time you enjoyed like the seconds before the alarm clock or last bite of ice cream, savoring the last seconds before you had to go inside.

As a child, I rode bikes, hiked, climbed trees, built forts. I played "war" and ran through the sprinklers, built snow tunnels, collected mistletoe, and collected wild edibles. I practiced the bow and arrow and atl atl, used power tools to carve designs into wood and rocks, and watched the meteor showers atop huge granite boulders. I made sled jumps and mud pies and rope swings. It was awesome. Oh, and I did all this unsupervised, just "within yelling distance", you know, before cell phones.

It seems we have lost this love of the outdoors, and this trust in our children or the world to let them play "in screaming distance" from us, untethered, unstructured, full of curiosity. In fact, one of my younger relatives actually asked me, "what do you do outside? It's so boring!" For which I about had a heart attack over. I wanted to cry. I wanted to grab her and most every other kid and transport them back in time to my time and show them what child hood is all about.

So when my son begs to come inside, I hesitate and give him just a few more minutes, letting him savor the simple joy of outdoors.

Friday, October 25, 2013

just keep smilin'

Have you ever been inspired by someone you have never met?

I am not talking about some famous leader, mover and shaker such as Gandhi or MLK Jr (although they are awesome!) No, I am talking about someone in a sense, just as inspiring, but not famous. I am talking about my half sister in law.

I have never met her (or her husband, my half brother, for that matter) and only know her from one email correspondence and photos her husband has shared via social media. Sadly, I will never get to meet her because she passed away last month after a battle with ALS.

I don't want to say she lost her battle, even though she has passed on, because she fought that battle like a superhero, down to her last moments. In every photo, she is smiling. I mean sure, who frowns in photos? But hello, if I had ALS, I am not so sure I would be smiling. But even through a photo over the internet, you could feel peace, joy, strength, a certain glow about her that said that she was a winner, a superhero, a bright light with a dark disease. Even after she lost her ability to walk, and probably talk and care for herself, she kept smiling and kept living. She had drinks with friends, dipped her toes in the ocean, enjoyed a sunny day while off-roading. She didn't let ALS win.
A woman I do not know but look up to, has inspired me. I hope I can somehow find her joy inside myself, not just in dark times but in good times too. She taught me strength and that life is, simply, awesome.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sloppy joe pockets

I had a food blog for organic, healthy recipes..well...this certainly does not belong there!

Late night TV beckoned to me, a commercial was using pre packaged refrigerated biscuit dough tins to make sloppy joe pockets. Think hillbilly empanadas.

Who wants the hillbilly empanadas recipe? Here it is. I did my own version not the tv one.

Get 8 biscuits, flaky, buttery, whatever floats your boat. Brown a lb of hamburger and half a diced onion and an equal amount of diced green bell pepper.

Drain excess oil.

Add 1 tea garlic powder
A squeeze of mustard (tablespoon?) I used the spicy grainy deli stuff
2-3 tea brown sugar
Teeny pinch chili powder
Splash Worcestershire
Salt and pepper to taste
About a cup of ketchup...till it looks like sloppy joes!
Half to a cup of water- you are gonna simmer the liquids and spices with the beef mixture for about 10-15 min.

Let cool.

Grab your biscuits and smoosh them out into circles about 6" across. You could use a rolling pin I suppose but I got down and dirty and just used my hands.

Spoon in filling so it fills about half the circle but with an edge about 1/4" around. Not too high of filling! Or it will ooze out and you lose out on eating it!

Add a pinch of sharp cheddar on top.

Flop the other half side of the biscuit atop the meat part and seal with a fork to crimp it. Sprinkle a bit more cheese atop the biscuit.

Oven is at 375 right? Go!

Cook on a greased or parchment papered baking sheet 9-12 min till gold on top. I loooove parchment paper!

Let cool a bit and enjoy.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

india, land of contrasts

Wouldn't it be cool if this was a travelogue of India? Yeah it isn't as I have never been to India. This post is all informative and nerdy, facts behind the many contrasts of India.

Home to a billion, give or take, manythink of India as sari clad call center women and engineer men in turbans, speaking Hindi and going to Hindu temples. But it is more than that. Over a decade ago, in college, I worked in an anthropology lab, archiving things. I found a magazine that mentioned a tribe in India and while I knew India was more than Hindus and Hindi, i hadn't a clue they had tribes and rare languages. Being the curious nerd I still am, I googled the tribe and learned India had tons of tribes, cultures, languagesmmmwho knew?!?! I embarked on a reseaech trail which ended up warping into an independent study mini thesis on Indian immigrants and their experiences in America. But the whole tribal thing kind of hid in the background. Some tribes are very "tribal" and others are woven into regular society, barely indistinguishable.

Now for some facts. Sure, a lot of Indians speak Hindi and to some extent, English. There are 22 official languages of India and each state is free to choose its own official language whether it is one of the 22 or not. 22, think of that. Sure, America being a melting pot has tons of languages but everything is kind of...English. in India you can hear two completely different languages while standing in line or whatever. You can see many different alphabets written on signs. You could easily end up somewhere, near home, where you do not understand a single written ir spoken word. Sure, about 40% of Indians understand some Hindi but...13 million speak Assamese, 83 million speak Bengali, 1.4 speak Bodo ,a language I never knew of; the population of New Hampshire or Estonia. Even more astonishing is the Bhojpuri language with 33 million speakers, that is the population of Morocco...but have you heard of Bhojpuri? A new language was discovered in just 2008' Koro. Granted there are only about 2,000 speakers but isn't it interesting that we just discovered a language? Researchers believe there are between 415 and 780 languages in India; some have their very own culture associated with them; many are among the tribes of India which make up about 8% of the population.

Religions in India are numerous as well, 80% are Hindu but 13% are Muslim, so that is over 100 million! Less in number are Jainism and Bahai, and tribal religions like Santhal.

So just think...India, too, is a melting pot.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I remodeled our small half bath...okay it is still being finished but I painted the white walls a teal...the color of twilight. I hung a picture I had painted. My mom found a small table for me which I antiqued and decoupaged. Everything needs finishing touches but I am happy with the results; my bathroom feels like a fancy hotel! (See the picture and more text below...)

To paint the walls I used a roller that was not quite rid of paint thinner so it went on spotty...not on purpose until I realized I liked the effect.

The table was covered in torn silver paper and then I made a cool stencil design. More accidents ensued and my acrylic paints adhered to the stencil and ripped up paper and got all gummy, but it added a near aged look. Then I made a blackbird stencil and smashed the ink pad I I the table, stencil in between. Yup, more accidents, as ink doesn't adhere to shiny paper so I carefully applied mod lodge to the ink to set it and then sponged some gray paint over it to try and replicate the stamp texture.

I am linking up at... http://www.prowessandpearls.blogspot.com/2013/10/doing-you-well-wednesday-37-and-some-co.html?m=1

frozen foreigner

Never before had I seen cords dangling from windows, attached to cars like tentacles, keeping cars from freezing. Never before had my breath formed ice in my scarf. Never before had I been to a place where people actually freeze to death.

In college, I spent a frozen month with my long distance boyfriend in an infamously dangerous neighborhood where I guess even locals fear to tread. I never felt unsafe; graffiti was hard to find and I never saw gang bangers...but then I'm used to how they dress in 80 degree weather....can you sag your two layers of pants? How easy is it to flash gang signs in thick mittens?

Really, I only feared freezing to death. Seriously, who decided a place that is -40c/-40f (counting windchill) in winter should be a great place to live? The village idiot? Walking to the subway at night meant your legs tingled with cold; it was rumored that you should not stay out exposed longer than 30 minutes or you risked hypothermia. Fully dressed. Ice went tinkle tinkle like glass, it was so cold. Rivers froze over- a novelty for a girl from the desert where rivers evaporated. People shopped underground, it was so cold a virtual gopher world. Everything was gray above and below ground, gray and cold.

I feared the laundry room, afraid some former Soviet Republic immigrant might yell at me in a strange language, for doing laundry during his time. I feared that my 4 years of French would fail me. when jhuh swee pehteet (je suis petite, I am small) becomes schweepeetee, does may day (m'aide, help) become mee way or something?

I feared bad gas. I was vegetarian at the time, on a major budget, and lactose intolerant. I basically ate nothing but bread, falafel, baba ghanoush, ramen, and cabbage for a month straight...but perhaps I kept myself a little warmer, farting the days away.

I feared depression because as mentioned, everything was gray, dull, cold and seemed to dampen the mood.

I never feared the neighborhood or its people. Even the subway prostitute was friendly.

I hope someday to return to Quebec, to see it in a livelier month. I recently google-mapped areas I am sure I had tread, I moved the little street view guy here and there around the NDG 'hood and beyond, and nothing looked the least familiar, covered in summery leaves and sunshine. Even my memories are kind of fuzzy, dreamlike. I don't even have a single photo from my month there, and I am that stereotypical tourist snapping a thousand photos. The only vivid memories are emotions and oddly, smells. The smell of dishwater, cabbage, diesel fuel, and snow mix together and say, Quebec. The feeling of poverty, loneliness, just eeking a surviving in a subterranean frozen world.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The great craft disaster

Ever done a craft and you did everything wrong an arse backwards? If so you will appreciate my efforts. I am super happy about my recent art and yet super bummed.

I took a class in book arts over a decade ago; my favorite art class ever because it united many loves of mine- books, mixed media, art... There are endless possibilities in book arts and it is addictive.

Word to the wise : if you suck at doing things at precise times in precise order with precise results, book arts will be hell. It was for me. Yes I loved and hated the class because it was wrought with mistakes. I can't even cook anything that isn't slow-cooker because halfway through, I remember I forgot three ingredients. Book arts is not forgiving like the crockpot. Book arts means crooked covers and warped pages, and sliced open appendages ever time I use the knife (I should not be allowed near sharp objects).

So one day I got this grand idea, to make a book for my son. I am a do it now or never type of person when it comes to inspiration so I just went at it and worked into the night writing and painting the pages.

I did not research any "how to" and didn't even think to think about how I made books in the past.

I then kind of forgot my book because I had another son shortly after. I slowly accumulated book supplies and got back to work.

Disaster continued.

wrinkles and glue stains oh poo
I ended up having to glue my folded pages together (a no-no), and has to use 99/cent crappy paints. I sewed the binding and lost track and thus a very a,b,a,b precise patterned binding ended p in clumps. I made book cloth and the glue was too clumpy and wet and bled through and the fabric wrinkled. I tried re-setting the paper and cloth and it wrinkled even more no matter what I did.

I have yet to glue the fabric to a board and the book to make a book cover, another potential disaster awaits.

I at least know all my mistakes. I hope to make another identical book with less mistakes, but who knows.

I cannot stitck

super cute! esxcept for errant paint
Rooted In Thyme

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Food snob

(Recipe follows my ramblings)

I finally admit it. I am a food snob.

I could easily demand all my food to be organic, preservative and additive free, and preferably locally sourced. I mean...why does frozen food, a form of preservation, need preservatives? Why do cows need to be fed corn and drugs? But I would go broke trying to live out this fantasy.

Also, I am supposedly picky. I do not like mayo, regular old mustard, ketchup, cold cuts, or cheddar cheese which kinda nixes the typical American diet. Oh and monosodium glutamate gives me a rash and severe migraines. And to boot, my body goes through stages where it refuses to tolerate dairy and or wheat.

I was trying to think though, where did my food snobbery originate?


My parents are both very picky eaters. My dad must have his meats cooked to mummification, and he can and does live off of salmon, toast, oatmeal, milk, cheese-it's, and eggs. My mother has only recently explored the wild side just a bit...at any "Asian" restaurant she gets teriyaki beef, at any Mexican restaurant, cheese enchilada and any other ethnic restaurant..well she never goes. She could easily live off of brownies (guilty pleasure), burritos (which have since been replaced by cheese enchiladas), cereal, and salad. In fact that is all she really eats.

Growing up, my mom was all about health. She never salted a thing (although if she used a processed food which was rare, it contained salt such as chicken broth) and dessert was a rarity; any home made dessert like a pie didn't contain sugar or sugar substitute. Things like ramen, boxed Mac and cheese, hamburger helper were forbidden... Until I learned to make Lipton noodles at age nine, then those were allowed.

We also had a limited repertoire of meals. Until post-college, the only sausage I knew of was the tube of Farmer John's breakfast sausage or hot dogs, and I had never eaten steak or sweet potatoes. Before college, the only ethnic food I had had was pizza and our 1950s style Chinese restaurant in town, and my mom's Mexican food using lawry's slice packets.

I was thinking, what did my mom make for meals? I cannot blame her for her food decisions but they made me picky even into adulthood- now I am the "feed me not ethnic or fancy foods" type.

Here are the foods my parents made or purchased or what have you- we are out maybe a few times a year.

Spaghetti with beef and squash
Frozen peas
Corn on the Cobb
Mashed potatoes
Burger patties braised in A-1
Store bought rotisserie chicken
Leftover chicken and canned bean burritos
Ground beef and red leaf lettuce tacos (no hot sauce or cheese)
Toast with jam
Microwaved hot dogs on toast
Shit on a shingle (canned chip beef over toast, flour and milk shaken in a jar and heated to make sauce)
Boiled dinner (pot roast beef, water, an onion, a carrot, pinch of pepper, a few gallons of water, a few red potatoes, boil all day)
Chicken breast baked with Russian salad dressing and onions

And on holidays, mummified prime rib and my favorite (honest!) green beans booked with broth, onions, bacon.

And then there were a few fads where we ate a certain food a ton and then never again. Milk fish, which was frozen orange roughy cooked in the oven with milk and a slice of tomato. Fish cakes which was tuna, cheddar stuffed into pillsbury dough and dipped in cream of celery soup. And lastly, a split pea, muenster cheese and ham hock puréed soup.

Sure, you may say, my mom never cooked more things than that. But see I a sure she did, even just once, or you went out to eat and ordered something different. Not us.

And also, my mom was the breadwinner and my dad cannot cook well so she was the family chef. Over tired (and the kind if weirdo where one burrito lasts her 3-4 meals, no joke), we would just have Russian chicken. Or salad. Not together. In college I had a boyfriend and went to his home and his mom mad chicken, rolls (heat and serve), rice, and salad. Afterwards, I pulled him aside and said he needed to tell his mom not to prepare a special feast for me. Aside from holidays, we would never have four things on our plate- rarely would there be two items on the plate.

See, my grandparents were...different. One set was a crazy broken family type so meals were not always, well, meals. The other side, the adults never cooked and were in dire poverty so it was kind of "fend for yourself".

So there...my long winded journey of food snobbery. I'm off to eat Italian beef sandwiches, another "new" food for me. Yum!

Mom's green beans (family recipe so it is all a pinch of this a bit of that)

Bunch green beans (when I go to the farmer's market they sell a bunch in a bag..a pound maybe?), chopped into 3" pieces

Chicken broth

Diced yellow onion

Salt and pepper to taste (ok so my mom never used the salt)

3 slices bacon

Cover green beans in broth and begin to bring to a bubbly but not quite boiling temperature. Meanwhile, chop the bacon and fry; you can dice and sauté the onions in the bacon fat or add raw to the beans.
Add bacon and onions to beans, season to taste.

Cook until they are the desired tenderness- some like chewy beans, some like soggy ones. It should be like a green bean soup and you can strain and eat or eat soupy.

Alternate version- my take

Same ingredients plus a small can (12-16oz) diced tomatoes, pinch of cumin, teeny pinch cayenne.

Cook bacon, then sauté onion in the grease. Add the tomatoes with juice and a splash of the broth...this is not a soupy version but you want enough liquid to soften the beans. Add the spices. Cook until beans are desired tenderness.