Thursday, August 31, 2006


Hey. Do you remember The Horse Whisperer? Wherein Robert Redford calmed a dangerous horse by whispering ever so quietly in the equine ear? In the special language of horses? Thereby restoring in the horse a sense of well being and safety such that the distasteful behavior no longer need be exhibited?

Yeah. I remember that too. Which is exactly why I was so horrified when I found a brochure for a program called "teen whispering"(TM) in the mail at work. Teen whispering is apparently "a training system for speaking 'teen'" which allows one to "Get through! With skill, peace, and impact!"

Thank god. At last a way to gentle the skittish teen without resorting to repeated beatings. This will really change the way we do things around the ol' high school.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Subjugation of all mankind

I know, I know. Things were going so well for a while there. There were all those stories about bocce ball and all, then I disappeared. Again. Why? Whatever could have happened? I'll tell you. Grad school, that's what happened. Lordy. So far I've had one week of my two year program and it seems that I've forgotten how to be smart and yet I am suddenly oh-heck-up-to-my-neck in homework. So, best of luck to me on that.

When discussing this with some young friends of mine, one asked what the degree would be. "It's a Masters in Humanities," I said, "so basically it won't particularly qualify me to do anything."

"What are you saying?" said Susanna. "You'll be more than qualified. You'll be the Master of humanity."

Ah ha! I hadn't thought of that. In two short years, you will all bend to my will.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


This morning I woke up with horrendous allergies, but, on the bright side, I had passed a mosquito-free night. On the previous three nights, we had been plagued. We don't know where they come from, but we certainly know when they arrive. We had staggered around bleary-eyed in bright light at 3:36am looking for a slender black shape on the wall. We had failed to find it. We had gone back to bed, trust shattered. I spent the remainder of the nights sweating copiously with the covers defensively up around my ears; F spent the remainder of the nights itching and slathered with some mysterious French ointment. True, in the bright light of day, we did find and kill two culprits one morning and one the next. We were briefly exhilerated by the killing, albeit sleepy.

This morning on the news I hear the announcer say "The only Bay Area victim of West Nile Virus is being released from the hospital today. There is only one way to prevent West Nile Virus," Cut to some sort of scientific expert who says, "The virus is real. It is here. It is very important that you heed our warnings. The only way to avoid West Nile Virus is to avoid being bitten to by an infected mosquito. Inasmuch as it's possible, do not expose yourself to mosquito bites."


Monday, August 14, 2006

On the other hand...

Yesterday F. and I were sitting in a slightly goofy restaurant in Fairfax, where we were very pleased to be looking out at sunshine and about to partake in homemade pasta. F. was particularly overjoyed that the waiters lugged around an enormous wheel of parmesan cheese from which they carved off individual chunks for every diner.

"I think we enjoy our lives more than we would if we were really rich," he said. I thought it over and agreed that this was probably true. We listed several things that fill us with delight which we might regard with indifference or disdain if we could afford fanciness at all times.

This morning, though, I woke from a dream in which F. told me that he'd been given a raise at work and would now be making $200,000 annually. In the dream, we did not seem concerned that this would make us jaded. Indeed, I believe we may have actually shed tears of joy.

I am secretly shallow, as it turns out.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Friend or foe?

I know many people are addicted to caller I.D., but I find it to be largely unhelpful. I'm of a mind that you could just answer the phone, find out who it is, and either talk to them or not as you wish. I know no one agrees with me.

We have caller I.D. at work, where it is even less helpful because what choice do I have? I have the remarkable good fortune of being the back-up receptionist, which is to say that if she can't get to a call after some (apparently small) number of rings, the call then rings at my desk. It is essentially my job to then answer it. This being the case, I'd just as soon not know in advance that the incoming call is from "Invisible Child."


Monday, August 07, 2006


I am pleased to report that manners are still being taught to children. Yes; it's true. I know this because yesterday I was approached by not one but two remarkably self-possessed, polite little girls.

Little girl #1: San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

F. and I were on the lawn in front of the Conservatory of Flowers yesterday playing a little bocce ball (I know, I know. It's possible that henceforth all my stories will involve bocce ball.) when I heard a small "Excuse me." I looked down and on my right was a small girl perhaps three years old. Approaching somewhat unevenly behind her was her smaller brother. Their mother was a rather distant third. "Yes?" I said. "What are those?" said the girl, pointing at the balls. "That's a game called bocce ball." Apparently favorably impressed by my answer, she quite civilly asked, "Can we borrow these?" "Well, not right now," I said, "because we are in the middle of playing." "Oh." she said. "Can we play with you?" "Um...okay."

I explained the goal of the game and she interpreted the rules rather broadly, but did, in a sense, touch the big ball to the little ball. Her brother wasn't quite as successful, but seemed to be enjoying himself. At this point, their mother caught up, swooped down, and with many prompts of "What do you say to the nice people?" bundled her children off. Over her shoulder, the little girl said, "Thank you. Can you come over there to Mr. Frog's birthday party?" Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend. It was nice to be asked though.

Little girl #2: Trader Joes

A few hours later I was staring vacantly meat case in Trader Joes, as I generally do before invariably buying chicken breasts, when I heard another little "excuse me" in the vacinity of my left elbow. Sure enough. Another little girl. This one was maybe seven and possibly just doing her own grocery shopping. In any case, I never saw her parents.

LG: Excuse me.
Me: Yes?
LG: Where is the turkey?
Me: For cooking or for sandwiches?
LG: Sandwiches.
Me: Hmm. (indicating almost entirely empty section of the case) It's usually right here, but it looks like they don't have much.
LG: We get the kind in the box.
Me: Me too, but they don't seem to have that kind today. They only have that (pointing to sad little low-sodium turkey packet).
LG: (After a moment of thought)Okay. Well, could you give me one of those please? We'll just break it up.

And so I did and with a thank you and a packet of sub-par turkey, she was off.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


If we were being responsible adults, my boyfriend and I probably would have started the drive home from Ashland earlier than we did, but we were having a perfect day and no one should interrupt a perfect day to be a responsible adult.

First we had our final breakfast at the inn we love. All you need to know is that the third course of this breakfast (you heard me) was chocolate cake.

After we checked out we went downtown to sunny, grassy Lithia Park where we broke out my brand new (birthday present) bocce ball set for its inaugaral game. Games, that is. We played for almost three hours. As the sun rose higher and it got hotter and more sunburn/skin cancer incuding, I fetched my new (birthday present to myself) red paper parasol from the car. Bocce ball, being a one-handed game, is ideal for parasol holding. The only risk is that the happiness generated by holding a new parasol while playing bocce ball may be overwhelming. Proceed with caution.

We were the big feature of the park that day. We drew interest and spectators and questions. We were also enormously popular with toddlers who would have loved to play with us if only the balls weren't so darn heavy. At one point Flavien said "We're really the cool kids today." This was delightful because A) we were totally the cool kids and B)this is not an observation Flavien would have made before he met me. I have introduced him to the very concept of cool kids. This is an international triumph.

Why is my real estate imaginary estate?

I am back, officially and with sad finality, from vacation. I used every last day, but I think that's as it should be.

I have come home from Oregon with pretty serious house envy. I hear yoga is supposed to help this kind of condition. I will consider it with the tiny bit of my brain that is not devoted to coveting the property of others.

In Portland, Ben and Stephanie have a very charming little house (which I think is officially meant to be called a bungalo, but as I do not know what really defines a bungalo, I will stick with "house") in a neighborhood overflowing with charming houses. They are currently living with a kitchen-in-progress, which creates a certain level of general discombobulation, but it will be lovely and bright and inspiring when it's finished. The fancy new refrigerator did arrive on the same day that I did and there was much rejoicing and drinking of cold beverages. Some of those beverages were consumed in the back yard because, well, they have a back yard. In back of their house. That they own. Yeah.

Fortunately, I had some practice with house envy before I visited Corvallis where Anne and Peter seem to have acquired a vast, sunny, beautiful house with a back yard of astonishing size. Had I not had practice, I might have gone into some sort of house-envy seizure and required costly emergency care. They seem to have five bedrooms, but they also have a full apartment over the garage, so if you visit them you could just stay there. That way, if you want to cook your own food, you can. However, I think I'd rather eat with Anne and Peter since their dining room is adjacent to the sun room from which there is a lovely view of the, ahem, grounds. I told Anne that my new mantra was going to have to be "I don't want to live in Corvallis. I don't want to live in Corvallis." Maybe I can incorporate that into the yoga. We'll see.