Monday, November 27, 2006


Here are some post-thanksgiving pictures to share. The first is a fine example of my, uh, anal tendencies when it comes to entertaining. No one expects this kind of stuff. No one wants this kind of stuff. Yet I insist. Mare called me while I was in the middle of finishing my lovely cheese wreath and she got quite a good laugh when I answered "Whacha doin?" truthfully. See what you're missing out on by living in Colorado, Jeep-girl?

Life lesson #242: Consider carefully whether it is worth the time or the effort to use cookie cutters on cheese. I have to admit that poor DH got roped into doing about half of these. He has talents I'd never dared to dream of. It is lovely, don't you think?

But look - the rest of my thanksgiving dinner
preparations were very simple, see?

The kids got the paper plates by the fireplace. I think they had the better end of the deal. Because, see, they got to eat the lovely leaf wreath too!

So on to my current obsession: christmastime fiber-optic sparkly lights:

For any of you who know Billy Jonas and his firecracker simulation: all together now. Oooooh, Aaaaaaah, Prettttty Colors!!!

DH smiled at me last night because I was just sitting and staring at my little christmas villages. If there'd been a window pane, I'd have my nose pressed against it. These things make me happy, what can I say?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. That totally American holiday of excess and lavish extravagence. But what a nice thought - to savor a day simply for the purpose of being thankful. It's such a nice idea that I put up with the lavish extravagence and even enjoy it completely to the last grain of rice and the last piece of stuffing.

I had the day off of work today because the nor'easter hitting the US east coast flooded the area around my place of work so they closed it, affecting DH too. So I spent today buying cloth napkins and placemats, too many groceries, and watching soaps. (DH spent the day pounding away on his laptop at the kitchen table, working from home. Apparently, he is much more dedicated than I am). I made cornbread to dry overnight for the stuffing, I made brownies for the kids tomorrow, and a pumpkin pie just finished baking. Tomorrow I'll put the turkey on the smoker, finish the sausage stuffing, make my mom's broccoli/rice/cheese casserole, prepare yams with apricots, finish the pumpkin bisque, heat the rolls, and start the blueberry and peach crisp to eat with vanilla ice cream afterwards. My friends are bringing a green salad, some surprise appetizer, an apple pie and fresh cranberry sauce. The wine rack is stocked, the juice box cabinet is stocked, and DH chopped a pile of firewood. We'll have time to get up late and watch the Macy's parade, eat french toast, and clean house (bleah) before folks start to come over. Nice.

I remember Thanksgivings at my grandparents houses so clearly. I remember the grown up table and the kids' table. I remember Nanny pulling out her silverware to eat with (which is why I asked if I could have it after she died). I remember walking around the block with my grandmother, mom and aunts after dinner, and playing on the concrete walls of a nearby shop. I remember my other grandmother's chocolate pies, which she always made for me. The top of her washing machine was always loaded with pies and cakes on Thanksgiving. I remember playing with my sisters and cousins in her spare bedroom after we ate. We'd transform the bed into a magic space ship, would shrink ourselves, and would travel through some poor unsuspecting soul's body, a la some TV show with that premise (Fantiasic Voyage?). I remember finding our way to the train tracks behind their property, and wandering for hours down the tracks. I especially remember one time that a train surprised us on a particularly treacherous stretch, leaving my sisters and me splayed out against bramble bushes as the train barreled by about 3 feet from us. (No doubt, my memories are a tad exaggerated, but they are what they are).

I remember making construction paper turkeys and cornucopias at school. I remember pilgrim hats and indian feathers. These days, I get the added bonus of the most amazing colors ever all around this time of year. I have new memories of Roxy bouncing down the street as she tries to catch leaves from the air and of my kids catching leaves in the cul-de-sac as they wait for the bus every morning. I have memories of warm fires and homework and books. I wonder what memories are striking enough that my kids will keep them until they are adults? Will they remember the dried leaf wreaths we made one year? Or the time we wrote what we were thankful for on slips of paper and made a game of guessing who wrote what? Hopefully, they'll come away with memories of love that cements a life. Our life is characterized by lots of guests and friends and laughing and sharing and the idea that life is meant to be lived with arms wide open and shared. I hope they remember that we were always ready to have someone else join us at our table at thanksgiving - that our house was filled with the loud noises of children behaving somewhat naughtily, of grown ups laughing so hard they had to sit down, and of hugs and smiles. That no matter what the weather outside, our home inside was filled with warmth and comfort and the knowledge that we are not on this journey alone.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

it's all about the togetherness

OK look. In defense of what I am about to do, I started this blog to keep in touch with family and friends who live far away from me. So I put these two videos out there for them - my two sweeties at their piano recital last week. Feel free to skip over this blatent bit of mommy largess.
Q (Music Box Dancer)
E (La Cinquantaine)

Well it looks like Thanksgiving will once again be held at my house, which is great. Really. It's wonderful. It really is. Really. Except for the sinking feeling I get when I look at my very small, untidy house and especially my very small untidy kitchen. Remember, we had to add on to this house in order to allow us to expand our chests when we breathe. That, plus I am raising a couple of children that are going for the guiness book of world records for creating flooring made of unmatched socks that have been flung from their feet (sans hands - they're very talented) every time they enter the house. It's a good thing Santa keeps them well supplied with socks because I'm not gonna buy them any ever again.

But back to Thanksgiving... wait- there's more! To further strengthen that very slight sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, the number of people that will be here is unknown. Ahhh, toss a coin! Make a wild guess! Your guess is as good as mine. At the minimum, we will have 11 (including my family of 4) but that number has the potential to go up to 25. (Friends know families who know families who will be alone over the holidays so how can I NOT say absolutely invite them along!!?? Isn't that what Thanksgiving is actually for??) So any good planning on my part for the dinner itself has been...well, what planning? I got a smallish (10 pound) turkey and will add ham or roast as these additional people make their decisions. The rest will fall into place, surely. ?? And for as to how I will actually seat 25 people in my very small house? Um. This could be interesting. This is one of those times I can understand the appeal of a very large house. Must be why Thanksgiving is an American holiday. We're all about big and excess here anyway.

It's all good. This is just the obligatory freak out beforehand and then I'll get all excited about the food and cooking and wine and once I actually start to smell the turkey and ham and onions and garlic and such, I'll be in nirvana, and then when my friends get here I'll just be delirious and drunk enough on wine that I won't notice that the nice German family is having to balance their plates on their knees as they sit on the steps of the garage.

I just hope I'm better at last-minute planning of large dinner parties than I am at buying area rugs. In the midst of my pre-thanksgiving freak out, I decided the area rug in our living room was just too dirty, too old, and too "busy" to have anymore, particularly for Thanksgiving dinners, so I proclaimed to my poor DH that our house sucked and would continue to suck until I got us a new rug. So he wisely said "Yes, ok, whatever you think honey," and I rolled it up and tossed it in the garage and went to Lowe's on the spur of the moment to purchase a new rug. I found the perfect one. I searched and searched so I wouldn't feel guilty about not exploring all my options, but kept coming back to the same one because I just knew it was meant to be. I took it upon myself to snatch a large cart (after ditching the window that was on it. I swear I stood there for a good 10 minutes waiting for someone to come claim it first. It was only a very small window anyway. They could easily make do with duct tape if they needed to). I pulled the largest rug they had out of the bins (by myself) and wrestled it onto the cart by myself. I painstakingly pulled it through the store, taking out unsuspecting small children and elderly grandmothers at the knees with the over sized roll. I managed to get it into my van all by myself (customer service wasn't the best today). I note here that I was still wearing high heels from church this morning.

I got the silly thing home and unrolled it, and well. Can I say here that I doubt I could have done a worse job? It was hideous. Atrocious. Laughable. Ugly as hell. It looked like I'd pulled a quilt off of my bed and tossed it on the floor. So with all my deflated pride, I was unable to muster the strength to return it on my own so I bribed DH to help. As we were schleping the ugly-as-hell rug back up tot he store, I realized with a heavy dose of deja-vu that this is the THIRD time I have done this (buy a rug from Lowes only to return it within hours because of my horrid visualization skills). The third time. I am officially struck out. How pathetic is THAT?

So we're back to the ugly, old, dirty, "too busy" rug that will likely stay there through Thanksgiving. Oh well. My guests will be too busy trying to figure out how to step over each other on the garage steps to notice.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

the winds smell sweeter

Every day I am at work, I pop over to NASAwatch to see what's up. For the last several years, the news there has inevitably been discouraging, to say the least. Cuts to NASA science. The administration's snubs to earth science. James Hansen being told to quieten down his global warming "rhetoric." More cuts. Will field centers be closed? RIFS. (Reductions in Force, which, essentially, is civil service lay-offs.) You get the idea. We were checking it several times a day when we were in the thick of the RIF possibility. It's been nasty. Last year at the AGU (American Geophysical Union) meeting in San Francisco, we had a big meeting with the Science Directorate bigwigs to address the concerns of scientists. And scientists were CONCERNED in capital letters. There has been much tension in my work world.

So today I checked the site and the first thing I saw was an article about how Barbara Boxer is the new chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. She'll be taking the place of (shudder) James Inhofe, who is the guy who refers people to read "State of Fear" to understand climate science and who calls climate change "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." (shuddering explained) Anyway, Barbara Boxer's stated priority is going to be "a very long process of extensive hearings" on global warming. I felt a cool breeze brush my face, and it smelled so sweet.

The second article I read was how investigations have begun into whether the Bush administration has attempted to "muzzle" government scientists, and in particular, science on global warming.

I'm not so foolish as to think that this country is going to suddenly become a liberal hotbed of intelligent, long-term solutions to the complicated problems we face. But the flavor of politics is so much more bearable now. I don't feel 100% shut like like I have for the last several years. I don't feel total hostility coming from Washington toward the work I do. Finally, I'm not so afraid to hope.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

what is to be next?

Global warming has been on my mind recently, due to a confluence of things related to it in my life.

Rolling Stone has an article entitled Can Dr. Evil Save the World?, in which Lowell Wood, a protoge of Edward Teller (father of hydrogen bomb and Star Wars missle defense system) spoke up at a global warming workship to propose injecting sulfate particulates into the northern stratosphere to counteract global warming. Geoengineering. Tinkering with the planet. As one argument goes, we're already doing that. But the other side of the argument goes that heaping multiple unknowns upon each other isn't moving in the right direction. (We know particulate surface area in the stratosphere increases the rate of ozone loss. Do we want to heat up or be fried?). Additionally, if we start putting bandaids on the problem, we're not going to have the impetus to address the root of the problem which is the form of our energy use. The surprising thing to me was Paul Crutzen's comment that " is time to consider 'last resort' options" in the fight against global warming. (Paul Crutzen is one of the Nobel prize winners from the atmospheric chemistry community from several years back). That he would advocate for this at all gives me great pause. Geoengineering would certainly be a last resort. Are we really at that point? Maybe.

Today at work we saw part of the Canadian film "The Great Warming", narrated by Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette. The piece of it we saw seemed accurate, though maybe a tad overly dramatized. That doesn't make it inaccurate. And it's like that to get the attention of the public, which needs to happen. Our local climate expert was there to moderate discussion afterwards. Even in an auditorium full of rocket scientists, there were some basic gaps in understanding, and I'm glad Bruce was there to address them in a very reasoned and understandable manner. I think this is a good film, and I'm glad it's been released to the public. I need to go see it myself, since we only got to see the first 45 minutes.

Many years ago, when I was in 6th great - Mrs. Deutschaver's class - we had to write a story. I wrote a story about how carbon dioxide had built up in the atmosphere and warmed the earth and melted the polar caps and people were racing for the mountains in a panic. I'd read or heard just a snippet of some of the first reports of the problem and was absolutely fascinated by the idea that humans could possibly have the power to change the earth is such a significant way. (I had no idea there was such a field of study as atmospheric chemistry at the time. I find the symmetry in my career and that little girl quite comforting. I really do love my work down to my core).

What is not comforting though is that the science behind global warming was beginning to develop then - more than 30 years ago. And yet today we are still fighting to get the public to understand the need to change the way we live. Look at my own life - I am certainly well aware of global warming and the blatent signs that things are ALREADY CHANGING. Yet we live 35 miles away from our place of work. And we take separate cars to get there (because of my part time schedule). The only way we will make progress is for the governments of the world to provide plenty of financial incentives for the development of new energy sources. We are capable of it, I am sure. I am also sure that we will get to that point. But I also am sure that it is too late to totally avoid the costs global warming. The world my kids will know and my grandkids will know will be very different from the world I grew up in. Exactly what it will look like remains to be seen. That is where I have to start to fight my personal demons. Species will disappear (the polar bears seem likely to be one that will become extinct in my lifetime). Weather patterns will change. Droughts will get worse in some places. The agricultural belts will change - I have no idea how that will affect food production or the distribution of food. I feel strongly that the divide between the world's haves and the have-nots will dramatically increase. At this point I feel comforted that I live where I do, but that is immediately replaced by horror at what millions of people is developing countries will surely face. It is going to be a catastrophic, world-changing thing, this geoengineering that we've been doing throughout the industrial age. I don't know if it will mean the end to the human species - probably not. But I think it will cause a dramatic shift in the way we live on the timeline of our existance. Agriculture. Industrialization. Global warming. We need some very smart people to start finding us new ways to live.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

thank you

Thank you, voters.

There was much rejoicing in my home last night. Mostly. We still constitutionalized our bigotry here, but it's a long road. Forward, back, forward, back but we'll make it eventually.

In the meantime, this site is cracking me up. Nietzsche's Family Circus.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I remember the presidential election between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in 1980 very clearly. I was 16 and had no clue about politics, really. I did, however, understand that I was entranced by the happening. An ENTIRE COUNTRY was focused on the common goal of electing their next leader. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to tally the returns and color in my little map with red and blue. Well, I colored it in red that year. Lots of red. I remember sitting by myself on the floor of our living room in the early morning hours, just awestruck at the whole process. (That race was never in question, so you KNOW I was all about the event rather than the outcome.)

I'm still like that (with somewhat more thought put into the actual issues). I'm no longer rooting for the guy that's already winning. I have much clearer ideas about how I want the election to turn out.

I care so much this year that I'm afraid to hope. I still remember the tears pouring down my cheeks as I drove home from work the day after elections two years ago, realizing that we had to endure four more years of our current president. When I went to vote this morning, I found that I was fighting back tears as I stood in the voting booth. I filled in the marriage amendment circle first, and thought about my many lesbian friends who are busy being model citizens and raising children and who want a happy life like most everyone else, and I swallowed back a lump in my throat. I voted against our senator and thought about the war in Iraq and tilted my head back quickly so tears wouldn't screw up the ballot (lordy, how would I explain *that* one? ( Well, sir, I was just don't know how my ballot ended up so soggy! I really don't!)

As the hour approaches that the polls are closing across the county, and results are poised to be reported back to us, I've got the state election return website bookmarked on my computer. I've got the TV set on various news channels that will be going over the returns, and going over them and over them and over them. And I'm trying to convince myself that the really big thing is that we have voted today. We have spoken. But I know deep down that if things don't change with tonight's results - if the country rubberstamps what has been going on for the last 6 years, part of that optimistic side of myself will finally shrivel up and die.


So here we go. No map to color in tonight (I gave that up after the whole Gore/Bush debacle and ended up having to recolor Florida with my son). But there is a lot at stake and I care. Very much.

election day

Why vote today?
We're voting on this day because the crops are finally harvested! (it's November, you see). We're voting today because it's the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. See, we need to travel to get to the polls, and since we can't travel on Sunday (god and all that), we must travel on Monday and vote on Tuesday. And we have to make sure we don't vote on November 1 because that would be All Saint's Day, which interferes with the Catholic faith. Plus the 1st of the month is a day for bookkeeping for shop owners. So it's today.

Why vote today?
Because from our earliest years of shouting "mommy, watch this, watch ME!!" Hey, hey, hear ME on this!", we have an inate desire to be heard, to have a voice. Because if you don't participate then you have no right to make me listen to you complain when things aren't going the way you'd like.

Why vote today?
Because we have had nearly 3000 (THREE THOUSAND) young boys and girls killed in Iraq since we invaded that country. That's more than were killed in 9/11, by the way.
Because more than 20,000 of them have been wounded. These include young people (average age of about 23) who are facing a future much different than the one of their childhood dreams. They are now going to live the rest of their lives after having been burned beyond recognition or having legs and arms blown off their bodies or after shrapnel has taken out their eyes and mangled their bodies. Here's a comment from Salon on the wounded soldiers.
So I vote today because people that we elect to represent us make the decisions that have resulted in these dead and wounded young people. Over 20,000. That is a very large number. It's a town. Think carefully about whether the purpose behind the invasion justifies these lost and changed lives. These are not invisible people. They could be my children.

Why vote today?
Because my state would like to consitutionalize bigotry. Although it is already illegal for gay or lesbian marriages here, apparently, "they" would like to change our constitution to cement our bigotry. My daughter keeps asking me why anyone else cares if two women love each other enough to get married. How does any other marriage affect my own? Why does anyone care? The only answers that make sense to me are fear and/or bigotry. So I vote today to raise my hand and cry out "Hey! Hey! Hear ME on this!!"

Friday, November 03, 2006

a sample of the colors around me

At the back of our house, looking toward DH's wood shed.

Looking across the street from our front yard.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006 it goes on

Happy Halloween!!!!

Here's pic of my sweet trick or treaters:

I'm so lucky. These little tiny people make my life amazing. And Q does an awesome impression of Napoleon Dynamite. It's a little frightening.

...and another pic I got from a friend whose husband is in the military:

John Kerry - will you just please be quiet for a while? We were doing OK until you screwed up a joke that really wasn't very good in the first place. Just. - stop. OK?

So. I posted a few posts ago about change. Right? And I made the comment that change is the bane of my existance, the definition of all existance. It's all good. Right?

Gah. While at work, as WONDERBOY is kicking me and gaochen out of the research nest and is slowly forcing me to become an independent researcher without my safety net (him) firmly in grasp, my husband is out of a job as of December 1. (Company lost their contract...he'll end up being fine, I know, but it would be nice to KNOW know, ya know?) And my wonderful friends B&K, the folks down the road who are really part of my family, who are the people that we wrote into our wills as the ones we want to be guardians of our children, the ones who I have spent the last 10+ years with through infertility, through babies, through adoptions, through diapers and walking and vacations and hurricanes and thanksgivings and crying and laughing...through dinners and babysitting and phone calls and wine and margaritas made of melted lime popsicles, through birthdays and holidays and LIFE...(sigh). They're leaving. Probably this summer. And as a result, everything seems unstable right now. But CHANGE IS GOOD. Right? Isn't that the party line? *sob*

You know, change is good. I know that (theoretically). Change is newness. And as someone who came up with Nietzsches' theory of eternal return on her own during the grad-school years of exploratory thinking, I sometimes think about eternity and what that would mean for "change". It would essentially do away with it, as nothing would ever be new. After an infinite amount of time (in which, you realize every possible thing that could possibly happen will indeed happen and will in fact happen an INFINITE number of times...), the wonderful things about life - the wonder and magic and love we feel, the joy, the music, the fun...those would all be diminished by the sheer the repetitiveness. Would we still be able to feel that flicker of joy at seeing our husband walk in the door if we saw the same thing an infinite number of times? Nothing would ever be new. Would we be able to fully experience love and excitement if we'd experienced the same things an endless number of times? (sigh) Me and Nietzsche. We are brother and sister in the theory of eternal recurrence,

So. Change is good then. Change is what makes life different. Change is what keeps things new. (sniff)

Excuse me while I go drink another glass of wine and watch the stars and speak to my soul mate Nietzsche. We will wallow in despair together and then will wake up to a new day and....just move on.