Thursday, November 17, 2011

Now there's your problem!

There has been much made of the Occupy Wall Street movement not knowing what it wants. There have also been many comparisons to the Tea Party movement in its grassroots nature. Of course the "liberal" media has derided OWS for being unfocussed and time-wasting. Hopefully at some point they will gel and figure out who's going to be their Bachman and get inside Washington and actually get something done. They would do well to listen to Tim Dickinson, who wrote a spot-on piece for Rolling Stone and said the following on Fresh Air the other day:

"I think I'd just like to make the point that we tend to think of income inequality in this country as though it were a force of nature, that people really don't have any control over. And certainly there are some underlying structural trends - the decline of unions, the increase of globalization and global trade - that are driving inequality to a certain degree.
But on top of that, and pushed by the Republican party, you have a tax policy that is favoring people who are getting more and more wealthy as a result of these structural trends and rewarding them with tax cuts that are allowing them to get richer still. And that is a new story in America and it's not the one that we like to tell ourselves."

The Occupiers know what they want, they just don't know it yet.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Rooster Cogburn abides

Saw "True Grit." Some observations:

Jeff Bridges' best movie for not being reminded of The Dude a lot.

In the "This movie has been rated" screen at the beginning, one of the resason for the PG13 rating was "Western violence." As opposed to eastern violence?

I should watch more westerns. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Who needs nutrients?

My almost-six-year-old has always been the picky eater (at least I can say he's not the pickiest eater I'm related to). But he's tall and seemingly always growing, so he's Always Hungry. And not just hungry, but "STARVING TO DEATH." Despite this, nothing every sounds good to him.

Last year we made him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch every single day. Now he refuses to eat them. He has never eaten vegetables, which seems relatively normal. But he refuses grapes and raisins. Raisins! Almost any other kind of dried fruit is great, but not raisins. They might as well be candy! Candy aside, the only things he reliably will willingly eat are cheesy triscuits, deli meat (always ham; even if it's turkey, we're calling it ham) and pancakes. Boy, does he go crazy when I tell him I'm making pancakes. We're talking running-around-the-house-flailing-his-arms-and-screaming excited. But he should really eat stuff other than pancakes sometimes.

Any thoughts from parents of picky eaters on getting your kid to eat more than five different foods? Or a recipe for pancakes with pureed cauliflower?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Multnomah Falls!

I am so proud of my two little men for hiking alll the way up to the top of the 600-foot waterfall. They complained less than the 8-year-old boy that was with his parents hiking behind us. Probably because his mom forgot the granola bars.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mt St Helens

We learned many things today. Fifty-seven people were killed when Mount St Helens blew its top in 1980. One of them was a revered volcanolgist named David Johnston. Another was a cranky, drunk old jackass who wouldn't listen when the scientists told him to get the bleep out. No one in this area of the country does anything recreational between the months of November and April. But while we were at a nearly deserted visitors center, the clouds parted and we were actually able to view the flattened and hollowed-out center crater. It really was quite something. I'm glad we spent the day driving up I5 and into the forest.

For dinner we ate at the Grilled Cheese Bus. People here don't go hiking or visiting National Parks when it's not actually summer, but they eat outside any old time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Downtown Portland

Apparently the Trailblazers are in the playoffs and it's a big deal.
Arthur's getting ready for his turn as a J Crew model.
Hippies carrying a mannequin leg.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Our home for the week

If you remember our last house swap, you may recall we had a tiny apartment with no heat and single-pane windows in a great location. This time we kind of have the opposite: A big, beautiful, comfy house in a residential neighborhood sandwiched between an industrial area and a district that made us kind of sad when we drove through it on the way to the house. But it's not too far from downtown and the river. We'll see how the location seems as we explore, but there doesn't seem to be anything real useful within easy walking distance.

Some time on the drive I realized we hadn't packed any Legos or board games for the boys. Thankfully our house, Cindy, had a stash she kept in the basement from when her kids (now in their 30s) were our age. We did make a quick run to Toys R Us for a couple soccer balls and Connect 4.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


On our way to our second house swap. Certainly the most epic drive we've attempted with our munchkins. It was a good day with minimal whining.

It won’t be quite as exciting as our last one: no driving on the wrong side of the road or mysterious coffee ordering problems (aside from the ones I usually have at Starbucks). Presumably the people whose house we’re staying in have a clothes dryer and a dishwasher and other American luxuries. We’re looking forward to spending most of the week in Portland, exploring sites like Mt. St. Helens and the Columbia Gorge and hopefully not getting rained on too much.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Why not to get poison oak

The latest in an occasional series of totally gross photos is thanks to my dear husband, who ran into some of the nasty weed in Mariposa last Friday. He went to the doctor yesterday and she gave him hard drugs (prednisone) and the healing seems to have begun.

I can't seem to find the totally gross picture of my pulled tooth from about 5 years ago. Very disappointing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


"Next year we'll have a new baby."
Me: "Will this baby be a boy or a girl?"
"A girl."
"And where will this baby come from?"
"Your tummy. Or we'll buy one from someone with some dollars."

"Most numbers are six hundred and fifty." (Our area code is 650.)

"Can you drink hand sanitizer when you turn 21?"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I want to believe

We have our own little Fox Mulder here, apparently. Yesterday our kindergartener told us "Leprechauns are really real, I know it!" We asked him how he knows this. "There was some writing on the back of a piece of paper." Hmmm. OK. We didn't press the issue.

Today he claimed to have more proof, and as we were walking home from school, he told his classmates that we passed how "leprechauns are real!" Evidently leprechauns are big in Mrs. Merk's class. Since we have intentionally not led him to believe in Santa or other such make-believe beings, this was a new one. He claimed that the writing on the back of the piece of paper was so small Mrs. Merk could not have written it. When I told Arthur that our copier/printer at home could make writing much smaller, he said, "I don't want to talk about this any more."

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Calm Kathy

Apparently my resolution to quit yelling at my kids is working. Yesterday I was picking up my 5yo from a playdate with his best buddy and my kid was being a big grump and yelling and fussing becase I wouldn't let his friend's mom give him another cookie (he'd already had two). I calmly told him he needed to be nice and thankful for the cookies he got and say thank you for that and the playdate. He continued to act like a pill, but I got him out the door without yelling at him.

This morning the friends mom said he commented on how "patient and calm" I am. Who knew?

I made a new resolution last week: not sitting in front of the computer surfing when I don't have a specific task to perform. That one hasn't been going so well. The problem is that I sit and don't feel like getting up again, so I browse around for random news stories or blogs to read. Trying it again this week...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

this is why

this is why I'm spending my weekend in meetings. This pictured valley is under 300 feet of water. This can be another Yosemite Valley. this is why.

Monday, February 21, 2011


Mostly based on an Outside magazine article I read recently, I've decided it would be fun(?) to try giving up one thing a week. Just to see if I can do it. Or for something to do. Or whatever.

This week it's yelling at my kids. When I get the urge to yell, I'll whisper. I've heard this works. Um, we'll see?

Other things to give up:
Diet pop
Red meat
Buying items that are not essential for health and hygiene
Buying ANYTHING (how many meals can I make with the stuff in the cupboard and freezer?)
Driving (after my foot is allll better... and the kids are in school)

Off the table:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No one bakes during winter.

My dear husband, with shopping list written by me in hand: "I can't find baking powder."
Trader Joe's employee: "Let me go check."
(Husband waits with 3-year-old)
Employee: "We don't have any right now. It must be a seasonal item."

Yet another reason Trader Joe's is completely stupid and a total pain in my butt.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My aching back

The good news is that my foot is feeling a lot better. went to the doc yesterday and the wound is great, motion is good, I should start trying to go for walks around the block. The bad news is my back is making me feel like I'm roughly 94 years old. This took me by surprise, since the surgery was 6 weeks ago and this just popped up in he last few days. It felt a little wonky Tuesda and Wednesday, and all of a sudden Thursday I could barely lift a half-full laundry basket. It's stiff and weak and whenever I bend over I feel like I'm going to do a faceplant. The doc says I need massages, assisted stretching and a jacuzzi. He attributed it to inactivity, even though I've been riding my exercise bike and doing crunches and planks for weeks. So anyone with jets in their bath, invite me over.

Last night my wonderful hubby helped me out with stretching and some muscle kneading. It's possible that it feels slightly better today.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Manic Monday!

Wow, I looove how Will Arnet plays Magic Max on Sesame Street, and his intro music is the same as it was for his illooosion shows on Arrested Development.

It's totally not my fault I found out some lousy new random Cub is wearing #17; I'm babysitting and when I turned on the Tivo it was on WGN because their 2 year old loves the People Falling Down Show.

I totally want one of these:

Monday, February 07, 2011

National Holiday

Why isn't "Super Bowl Sunday" a standard listing on my calendar? It's at least as important to most Americans as Valentine's Day, or St. Patrick's Day, right? Go to June on your calendar, and on the 14th you'll see Flag Day. Flag Day! Who celebrates that?? Even if you don't "celebrate" the Super Bowl, if you go out to your favorite store or restaurant, you'll have it mostly to yourself. Doesn't that count as a national holiday?

For the past 10 years or so, our family has celebrated this great American event with good friends Matt and Sheila, and in recent years, their sweet kiddos. This year and last it was at their new home, with room for kids to run around out side. It's one of my favorite days of the year.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

I wrote this!

Scroll down to page 16. It takes a bit to load; I wrote the story about the dirt-bike-racing kid :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Top 5 Friday

Top 5 Random Things that make me Happy:

5. The word insouciance

4. The word corporeal

3. The intro to the Colbert Report (yes, I've seen it a hundred times, but it makes me smile every time)

2. Making my own background on google:

1. This collection of "treasures" at the Menlo Park library:

Not shown are a slide rule and high school diploma from 1957.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Menlo Park's Once-ler

The Menlo Park City Council voted 3-2 last night to let a developer cut down one of the biggest redwoods in the city so she could extract the most possible profit from her investment.

In tree vs. cash, cash wins.

This developer, Kim Lemieux, referred to for the rest of this post as The Once-ler*, bought a house on University Avenue in 2007 with the intention of tearing it down and building a bigger, "better" house to then sell for a huge profit. She has done this about a dozen times before in Menlo Park. Because of her experience she knew about Menlo Park's Heritage Tree Ordinance, which says that you have to get permission from the city to chop down any tree bigger than 12 inches in diameter. From the beginning it was her intention to chop down the tree, and she assumed her request would be rubber-stamped. (She has not said this publicly, but it's pretty obvious to anyone who has followed this saga.)

As is their right, the next-door neighbors (my new colleague on the Environmental Quality Commission, Christina Smolke, and her husband) filed an appeal after the planning commission approved her house design, with the tree removal included. The Once-ler said she couldn't possibly build a viable house on that lot with the tree in place, right in the middle of the deep, narrow lot. We on the EQC said we didn't believe her. In October the city council listened to her sob story about how she just had to bigger her house in order to bigger her money. They decided they couldn't possibly make a decision about this without paying some experts $7,500 to tell them if a house could be built with the tree there.

These experts said it could. The Once-ler said it would be too expensive, and no one would want to buy the house under the redwood tree anyway, because it would make the house oh so sad and dreary. The council (or at least three of the five present) bought it and said, "OK, Once-ler, it's only one tree."

I hope the city is working on a new logo this morning.

*The Once-ler is the villain in the great Dr Seuss book, The Lorax. In it, the Once-ler discovers the beautiful Truffula trees, and uses them to knit Thneeds until they are all gone and he and all the animals who lived in the Truffula forest are ruined.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Before and After

Both these xrays show same foot, my very own right foot. Is that amazing or what?

I had another doc appointment today and got my stitches out, which wasn't as uncomfortable as I thought it was going to be. He changed the bandages and said I can start taking showers without wrapping my foot in a plastic bag. I'm a little nervous about taking care of the wound myself, but he says it's healing fine. (Don't worry, I'll post a new pic when I change the bandages.) And in a week, I can try to wear a real shoe!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How cold is too cold?

Sitting here at my dining room table, wearing two sweaters and slugging hot coffee, I'm practically shivering. Why? $250 to PG&E last month, that's why. This giant rented box we're living in, with its single-pane windows and shoddy construction, is a sieve, and there's very little we can do about that. I've set the thermostat to 66. In the master bedroom, we've put a plastic sheet -- the kind you shoot with a blow-dryer to seal -- over the bathroom window. The vent in there is busted, so I use a space heater when I'm showering.

We can't put in new windows. We're stuck here more or less indefinitely. The males of the house don't seem bothered by the chill; my husband is content to put on a sweatshirt. Should I pick up some cheap longjohns? Or admit defeat, turn up the heat, and find another way to save cash? The new $2 wine at Whole Foods is half-way decent...

Friday, January 14, 2011


I went to the doctor this morning and finally got to see what's been under the two inches of bandages on my foot all week. The doc says it's healing nicely and it seems like I've been doing all the things I'm supposed to. This week I need to keep using my ice machine and gingerly putting weight on the foot. I am also supposed to wiggle my toe back and forth with my fingers, to make sure the healing happens within normal range of motion.

But the really exciting news is that I got a temporary handicapped parking placard! Basically, I can park anywhere I want for free until the end of April.

We sadly bid Aloha this morning to my mother-in-law, who was here for a week doing alll the cooking, cleaning, laundry, errands and miscellaneous pet- and child-care while I started recovering.

Now, if you are squeamish, don't scroll down, because there's an awesomely gruesome picture of my incision.


Here it comes...

Keep going if you like gross stuff.

If you don't, close your browser window now!

It's almost here!

Behold, the Frankentoe:

Friday, January 07, 2011


My foot has been sliced on and the healing is underway for my formerly-bunioned right foot.

In case you're wondering, as I did, how they make sure they do the correct side, a nurse had me write YES in purple marker close to the spot that's to be worked on.

Basically the doc cut my foot open, broke the bone below my big toe, shaved some of it off, shoved it into place, and put in some kind of screw that disintegrates over time. Took about an hour and a half, during which time I was totally out.

The numbing medication is still in effect, but my toes are starting to tingle just a bit, so it's time to take a painkiller, per doc's orders. I have a cold machine that pumps ice water into tubes wrapped around my foot, and that's supposed to be on for 20 minutes and off again, so I don't get frostbite.

I'm supposed to say in bed for the first few days and then I'll be hobbling around a bit. My wonderful mother-in-law, who had the surgery a couple years ago, is here to help take care of the boys for a week.

I see much knitting and listening to audio books in my future...

Oh, and I didn't' feel the earthquake, or if I did I just thought I was dizzy from drugs and fasting.