Sunday, August 31, 2008


I don't fall for that that Back to School major marketing ploy. Granted, it's far easier because I have boys instead of girls. They don't require scads of new clothes. Clad them in some black pants and concert t-shirts and they are happy campers... or happy as clams. Personally, I think they are more clam-like than camper-like.

When school let out in June, I collected all Ernest's unused supplies in a box. He was able to draw on these supplies last week. I did get him a new lunchbag, because his old one ripped over the summer. (Stuffing large plastic containers of chow mein noodles into a small bag will do that.) I also bought refills of .7 mil. pencil lead, for the large collection of mechanical pencils he already owned.

Regarding Frank: when he moved his room we put all the accumulated "school supplies" in a desk drawer. I hope he's been able to find what he needs. If not, he knows where his school bookstore is.

Ernest does need a belt (to hold up his pants because he is skinny) and 2 guitar straps (because he wants to start playing Frank's old guitar and bass)...but THAT IS ALL. That's all I'm going to buy until Christmas. (I say that now...please let me stick to that vow.)

There's no place in this small town to buy children's belts or guitar straps (the guitar store closed last year). So they will have to come from internet, or we can send Frank or the Handy Husband on a lunch-hour mission!

(By the way, I rough-drafted this post with my own personal supply of pencil and paper because the computers were occupied.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Remote Control

Ernest has been complaining for a couple days that his remote control does not work if he points it straight at the TV. It only works if he points it up at the ceiling. It didn't do that when he first got the TV.

So I said, figure it out yourself or ask your dad. (Because the Handy Husband repaired a remote recently, so he is the go-to-guy for that kind of stuff. I just pay the bills, cook the food, do the laundry, parent the children, and run the house. The electronic gadgets are not my department.)

This evening, Ernest figured out the problem. "There was a box in front of the TV." A box? The TV is up on a shelf, how could a box be in front of it? "It was the xBox360 hard drive." Oh. That's not really a box. That's a thingie less than an inch high, but apparently just high enough to block the remote sensor. And why wasn't it IN the xBox360 where it BELONGED????

I just have to compliment the remote control on being able to bounce the signal off the ceiling at an angle and back to the TV.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

B-Movie Marathon

A local video store is going out of business.

Long ago, Blockbuster quickly overwhelmed out the few mom-n-pop stores around here, but these folks came in later. They managed to hang on for a long time. I liked them because it was easier to find new releases there. Although the store always smelled funny. But then came along Netflix. Where it's harder to get new releases because they always have a LONG WAIT, but they arrive in my mailbox with no effort on my part.

Anyway, this store is selling off EVERYTHING (want a security system? or some wall units? or a bubble gum machine? or a Phantom Menace poster?) so Ernest and I bought a bunch of DVDs yesterday. Because they were there. On the way home from the orthodontist. Like I need more stuff.

Without planning this, Ernest and I have had an afternoon marathon of B movies. And by that I mean movies starting with "B".

Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control
Balls of Glory
Beowulf (currently running)
Bucket List (from Netflix) is scheduled for later, when the Handy Husband is home.
[update: There was also time for Blades of Glory]

Yes, Ernest did do his homework. And we're having leftover lasagne, so I'm off the hook!



[pur-suh-veer-uhns] –noun
1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

This spunky little flower sprouted up at the corner of the school gym.

It made me smile.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"English Was Interesting Today"

English was interesting today, said Frank.

How so? I asked.

Somebody passed out in the front of the class. The teacher called Campus
Security, they called an ambulance, and we all had to evacuate the classroom for a half hour.

Well, that was a different kind of interesting than I was expecting. He also
spent another $41 on books. That's close to $600 for books so far. He was smiling and talked to me and carried my groceries into the kitchen, so I guess he had a good day.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Food List

I've seen this on Sarah's Lemon Life and Blackbird's Say La Vee. It made me hungry just to read theirs. Updating my version took a long time and now I'm hungry again, but Ernest has kindly made popcorn for us.

1)Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you have eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at Very Good Taste linking to your results.

I thought I loved food, but there are a number of things I haven't tried yet. I only crossed out a few, mostly because of too much spice (which equals indigestion) or the fact that it was intestines. And then there's durian. I've been warned.

If I've copied a description, it's from Wikipedia.

1. Venison - Many times. Delicious!
2. Nettle tea - why?
3. Huevos rancheros - How much Mexican food have I eaten in my life?
4. Steak tartare - I think beef carpaccio is close enough.
5. Crocodile - Does alligator count?
6. Black pudding - is this like the blood pudding that my Norwegian aunts made in the old days? Fortunately they had no access to blood after I was born. I would taste it once, just to say I did.
7. Cheese fondue - I've had 2 fondue pots in my life.
8. Carp - I think this is a fish I haven't met yet.
9. Borscht - maybe once? I do love beets. I have beets in the fridge for tomorrow night. I may roast them with some potatoes and carrots.
10. Baba ghanoush - I love middle eastern food (belly dance parties!)
11. Calamari - Especially the little ones that have their tentacles, at lunch at the Enterprise. Much tastier than the flat white slabs.
12. Pho - Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup. If I lived anywhere near a Vietnamese restaurant, I would be eating it right now.
13. PB&J sandwich - Yes, but I dislike peanut butter.
14. Aloo gobi - I didn't recognize it by name, but the description is: dry Indian curry with potatoes, cauliflower and spices. I make something similar at home but it is is a little wetter due to the white wine I throw in (a recipe from Sunset Magazine).
15. Hot dog from a street cart. NYC, way to go! First thing I ate there, in 1988.
16. Epoisses - "a pungent unpasteurized cows-milk cheese." I'll try it once.
17. Black truffle - Would if I could.
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - Elderberry.
19. Steamed pork buns - Mmm, pork. [Shut up, Homer.]
20. Pistachio ice cream - Not my favorite.
21. Heirloom tomatoes - Caprese.
22. Fresh wild berries - going back to childhood, picking wild strawberries on my uncle's farm in Minnesota.
23. Foie gras - does liver pate count?
24. Rice and beans - On every plate of enchiladas verdes at Rose Cafe.
25. Brawn, or head cheese - Another one of those things the Norwegian Aunties loved. Head cheese is not that bad. It's better than pickled pigs feet, which is another odd thing they made me eat.
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet Pepper- "one of the hottest peppers in the world." Nope. Not for me.
27. Dulce de leche - Ugh. Caramel. Do Not Like.
28. Oysters - preferred raw on the half shell or Rockefeller if I have to have them cooked. .
29. Baklava - Oh, yes. Philo, honey, walnuts. My teeth are screaming with delight.
30. Bagna cauda - "a warm dip typical of Piedmont, Italy. The dish, which is served and consumed in a manner similar to fondue, is made with garlic, anchovies, walnut or olive oil, butter,red wine vinagar and sometimes cream. The dish is eaten by dipping raw, boiled or roasted vegetables, especially cardoon, celery, cauliflower, artichokes, peppers and onions." I want to eat this! And then brush my teeth really well afterwards.
31. Wasabi peas - in a bowl of mixed crackers
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl - Best at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. A last resort at Disneyland in New Orleans Square when the sit down restaurants are too crowded. 33. Salted lassi - I think I've had it. An indian yogurt drink.
34. Sauerkraut - Mostly on the aforementioned hot dogs
35. Root beer float - At a local restaurant, they end your dinner with a root beer float or a liqueur (see 36). I usually choose the liqueur.
36. Cognac with a fat cigar - the Cognac but not the cigar.
37. Clotted cream tea - can I go to England?
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - I'm not a bar kind of girl, but I wouldn't turn one down.
39. Gumbo - Palace Cafe!
40. Oxtail - I should stew some.
41. Curried goat - I had goat tacos, but not curried, at a birthday party next door with our former neighbors' Birria. It was good!
42. Whole insects - I might have had a chocolate covered ant at some time in my life.
43. Phaal -"the hottest generally available dish from Indian restaurants." I will pass on this. I can't deal with extremely spicy foods.
44. Goat’s milk - yes, and cheese.
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more - Whiskey, but not THAT expensive!
46. Fugu - No, but I would try it. Once.
47. Chicken tikka masala - I love Indian food.
48. Eel - Sushi, cooked with a teriyaki glaze. Tasty.
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - D'oh!
50. Sea urchin - Sushi. Smelled like a bad tide. I won't try it again.
51. Prickly pear - In a Margarita in San Antonio, Texas in 1993.
52. Umeboshi - a sour, pickled fruit from Japan. Hmmm. Ernest did not have one on his trip there this summer.
53. Abalone - I had it in a restaurant. The Handy Husband described pounding it with a hammer way back when, when it was plentiful.
54. Paneer - saag paneer, an Indian spinach dish.
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - At age 10 I had to beg my mother for my first Big Mac, instead of the tiny hamburger. She thought I couldn't eat the whole thing. She was wrong.
56. Spaetzle - In my college days, there was a little Swiss/German restaurant a few miles away whose Sunday special was veal ragout with spaetzle. The ultimate comfort food.
57. Dirty gin martini - Dirty is with the olive juice? I'm not up on my martinis. Except for the pomegranate ones.
58. Beer above 8% ABV - Uncertain? Perhaps under the influence at the time.
59. Poutine - "French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy, a fast food staple in Canada." If it doesn't stink or burn me, I'll try it.
60. Carob chips - uck. Give me real chocolate any day.
61. S’mores -. Classic camping food.
62. Sweetbreads - When I was 12ish, my dad took me to a restaurant in San Francisco called Cafe Du Nord which was very continental, and we had sweetbreads. I don't remember what they tasted like. The menu for the current Cafe Du Nord seems nothing like the one I went to.
63. Kaolin - This is CLAY! If it is what's in Kaopectate, yes as a child because my mother made me. I would have rather had the diarrhea. Take Immodium instead!
64. Currywurst - "a German dish consisting of hot pork sausage (German: Wurst) cut into slices and seasoned with curry sauce." Sure, why not?
65. Durian - NO! NEVER! The Handy Husband experienced durian in Singapore. It was not pleasant. I think even Andrew Zimmern could not stomach durian.
66. Frogs’ legs - Frank and Ernest both like them, too.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - Beignets are the best.
68. Haggis - When in Scotland... It's stomach, not intestines.
69. Fried plantain - We made this at home. Frank had an English project in sophomore year, when they read "Things Fall Apart." His project was a cookbook of African recipes and he had to have made at least 3 of them. By a lucky twist of fate, the local market had plantains that week. We also made a chicken curry and Lorenco Marques Prawns. Check out the Congo Cookbook.
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette - Intestines? No thanks.
71. Gazpacho - A cool thing on a hot day.
72. Caviar and blini - Caviar yes, blini no
73. Louche absinthe - "no evidence has shown it to be any more dangerous than ordinary liquor." Send me to France.
74. Gjetost, or brunost - more of the strange Norwegian food forced upon me in my childhood. Why isn't lutefisk on the list?
75. Roadkill - Can it taste worse than lutefisk?
76. Baijiu - "a Chinese distilled alcoholic beverage." If I'm ever in China....
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - Grade school.
78. Snail - Ernest says they taste better in France. The ones in my yard taste the worst (thanks a lot [sarcastically] for the backyard snail recipe, Sunset Magazine).
79. Lapsang souchong - Probably at the Japanese Tea Garden when I was very young.
80. Bellini - MMM.
81. Tom yum - hot and sour Thai soup. Wonderful!
82. Eggs Benedict - My favorite out-to-breakfast meal.
83. Pocky - Sticks!!!!
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant - If I ever got to one, I would try it. Again, send me to France!!
85. Kobe beef - in a burger.
86. Hare - close enough to rabbit.
87. Goulash - I make a nice goulash, if I say so myself.
88. Flowers - Yes.
89. Horse - If in France, I would.... Not where I live.
90. Criollo chocolate - Is it Mexican?
92. Soft shell crab - Again at the Palace Cafe, home to all things Cajun and Creole and inCroyable.
93. Rose harissa - "a North African hot red sauce" This is a maybe depending on how hot it is. I like a little spice, but not overpowering.
94. Catfish - All the time.
95. Mole poblano - Surprisingly, with all the Mexican food available here, I have not had mole. Must remedy.
96. Bagel and lox - ever since the New York Bagel Factory in college.
97. Lobster Thermidor - I prefer the plain tail.
98. Polenta - pre-cooked. I haven't made it myself.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee - I've had many coffees, so probably.
100. Snake - I think so. Or I might be confusing it with the alligator.

Life is a Learning Experience

Frank is learning all sorts of things this week, and they're not academic. Here are his lessons for today:
  • To find a parking place on or near campus, you need to get to school by 8 a.m.
  • If you part on a permit-required residential street, you will get a parking ticket. So will the 20 or more other students that parked near you.
  • You can write a check from your new checkbook to pay the $41 ticket.
  • "Forever" stamps don't expire. Don't use the Yoda stamps because they are 1 cent too small.
  • Your mom will not get mad about this, because she knows you had to park somewhere in order to get to class on time. And you said it wouldn't happen again.
  • However, your mom is behind the times and was intrigued by the computer printed ticket. In her college days, they were handwritten. She received several for parking in red zones. (Hey, she lived in I.V. where there was a real parking problem.)
I call these little things "life lessons" and add them to all the other things he has learned, like how to do laundry in the sink when you are traveling (he learned that 2 years ago), and how to change a tire (the Handy Husband taught him that one last month).

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Ubiquitous First Day of School Post

u·biq·ui·tous adjective
existing or being everywhere

Smalltown Mom: I ping-ponged between my two 2nd grade classrooms today. I know all the 2nd graders except for a couple new students. Whoo-hoo! No issues at recess or lunch, so I was a happy camper. It was gratifying to walk in the office and have people hug me and say, "I'm glad you are back!" And I would say, "I'm glad you are, too!" We have a great staff this year.

Ernest: He has Mrs. Gray for Algebra! (Frank loved her sense of humor.) He gets two electives! He's signing up for Advanced Band and Vocal/Guitar. Vocal? Good for him!!!! (I'm surprised he didn't sign up for Drama, because he talked about that this weekend.) But the lure of guitar and rock band was too strong. I don't mind. I can pick him up at the band room every day and gaze from afar at the cute band teacher!

Frank: He was somewhat communicative when he got home. (For those of you who know Frank personally, you know that he doesn't talk that much.) His first two classes at City College (Chemistry and English) were fine. Small, about 30 people. He ran into 5 high school classmates there. He was able to go to work in the 5 hour interval between the 2 classes. Tomorrow he has 2 music classes back to back, then he'll work for a while in the afternoon. Some of the classmates are commuting together but Frank maturely said, "I can't, I have to get to work afterwards." Yay to earning some money!

I was a really kind mom today and washed Frank's dishes. I couldn't control myself. I dropped off something else in his "apartment" and the dirty dishes were there, and I remembered my mother who used to come to our house while we were working and wash our dishes.

She thought it was funny! (She didn't have a whole lot to do. And I didn't have a working dishwasher.) I would come home and marvel, "The Dish Fairy was here!"

Since today was Frank's first day combining work and school, I thought it would be nice to carry on the "Dish Fairy" tradition. My ulterior motive was that I also retrieved the dishes that belonged in my kitchen!

SO, one day done. 179 to go.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We did it Again!

Yes, another Segway ride! I was coordinated enough to ride and take a short video at the same time.

We rode up a hill to a park, where we met the Handy Husband. His office was having a picnic. After showing off our prowess on the Segways, we rode back down the hill and around the harbor until out time was up.

Rejoining the picnic, Ernest found other fun things to do. "Want a hug, Mom?!"

The birds started lining up on the fence. First one, then was Hitchcock time.

Glorious weather!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Ernest announced yesterday, "I'm out of shape. I've lost all my lung power."

During the last school year, due to the weird scheduling of his math class, he had P.E. 4 days a week (twice with the 6th grade, twice with the 7th). He loved it. At the beginning of the summer he rode his bike a lot. Then he was away for 2 weeks, and spent 3 more weeks at the zoo . Not much bike riding.

So now he has a get-in-shape plan: ride to the river and back twice a day.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Frank Facts

This is a 3rd person commentary.

The family knows his mother has been fretting about Frank because of his tendency to can I say it politely...Procrastinate? Be lazy? Put things off?

He enrolled and did his tests early enough, but put off making the required counseling appointment. After much nagging suggestion by other parties, he finally tried to make the appointment but found that most of the appointments were booked. The earliest one he could get was a week before school starts. His mother was irritated and had to choke back the ITYS (I Told You So) reflex.

Today, he had the appointment and his mother was surprised that he managed to get some decent classes: English, Chemistry, Music Theory/Musicianship, which are all transferrable to the university.

It's not the greatest schedule -- On MW he has a 5 hour gap between 2 classes but hopefully he can go to work during the gap.

But he didn't write down the exact class #s and sections so he couldn't buy books today. He swears he will do it Saturday. His mother is concerned that the bookstore will run out of books before then. (Only because it happened to her once.)

He had over 2,000 text messages on the last cell phone bill. His mother had no idea. That new girlfriend is a textaholic.

His mother is glad summer is almost over.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Best Day I've Had All Week

I've been feeling a little punky this week, a combination of an intestinal yuckiness, massive perimenopausal hormonal fluctations, and a strange middle of the night panic attack. Someone else drove for me Thursday, and the Handy Husband kindly took over my carpool duties this morning --Thank you sweetie, that was so nice of you.

However, I pulled myself together this afternoon to keep a promise to Ernest. (I've had to renege on the Disneyland visit next week because I can't get a reservation at the Disneyland Hotels and I refuse to stay anywhere else). So keeping today's promise was important to me.

Yes, we rented SEGWAYS! Oh my gosh, what a blast! That was the most fun I had all summer! I felt better on that Segway than I have all week!

My top 5 enjoyable events this summer were:
  1. The Segway Ride,
  2. Seeing Mamma Mia!
  3. Dining out with my Handy Husband every chance we got!
  4. Having my kids return safely (which should be #1 but the traffic issues dropped it down the list),
  5. And seeing this grafitti every time I drove the carpool to the big town:

Seriously! There is a string of railroad cars along the coast, abandoned on a side track. They've been there all summer. Graffiti gradually started to appear. Ernest noticed this masterpiece several weeks ago.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Frank's Fair Share

I was spewing a lot of bloggy love about Ernest yesterday. Just so you know, I adore Frank just as much. He just had the nerve to go and grow up on me!

Here are some newly discovered Polaroids of Frank. I think he's younger than 2. Because once he was 2, he only wore Batman shirts.
Look at that cute grin! And the drooled-on shirt!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A boy's gotta do what a boy's gotta do...

Vanessa commented that "He's getting up at 8am?? Isn't it summer?" And yes, I think it's a little freaky that a boy would get up so early on his day off. But this boy's gotta do what a boy's gotta do.... And he felt he wanted or had to do his Lord of the Rings marathon.

And this turned into a post.

Although he is still a "boy" in the physical sense (no freaky body hairs yet), Ernest oftens seems like a real "man" (in the best sense of the word -- and so much like his dad, the Handy Husband!) in a boy's body.

He embodies the best parts of being a man: He is devoted to his family, he will focus on the tasks at hand, and he will plan ahead for the future. In my book, that's a REAL MAN. And he's only 12. I hope he will keep these ethics, as his dad did, as he grows up. As much as I love my older son Frank, he was not this "together" at 12. (Frank has since show his gifts: a 5 on his AP Calculus test, 4 on AP Physics. He's our math genius.) However, I digress...

For the last few weeks Ernest's focus has been going to "work" 5 days a week at Theater Gone Wild at the zoo, which requires commuting 45 miles each way (with the obliging carpool parent which 3 out of 5 days has been me, the "can't say no" SAHM.). And not complaining at all (from him, not me). Because it's what he really wants to do. And I respect that.

I like that Ernest says his opinion and sticks to it. For example: Do you want to keep this toy? (We are in the middle of a huge Clean Tradey Sweepyness Thing that I can't even talk about right now because I am so overwhelmed by it.) But I can ask him about a silly toy and he will say "donate," "keep," or "Mom, I'm not sure." Not sure means I let him keep it anyways.... Frank would say "Whatever" or "I don't care" which doesn't tell me anything.

And Ernest just showed me how to enlarge what's on the screen so my 48-ish eyes can read it (Control +)!

Ernest and I are planning something fun next Friday afternoon, and hopefully a Disneyish thing the week after (planning all this at the last minute). Happy Face Mom. And then school starts. SAD FACE MOM.

Bythe way, I have promised the HH to go to some drag races in Bakersfield in October. HAPPY FACE HANDY HUSBAND!!

A Late Start

Hour 1 (9:00): Already, Ernest's LOTR marathon is running late. I heard him use the bathroom at 8. But when I went to take his breakfast order (room service, I told you) he was asleep! So the marathon started at 9. Did I mention that he's probably going to spend the whole day in (or on the) bed to accomplish this?

Hour 2 (10:00): Room service provided pancakes and sausage. Why did I decide to make pancakes? I don't even remember how to cook them properly. Usually Frank or Ernest is the pancake chef, and they do a far better job than I did. The first two were burnt and went straight into the trash. I did get a nice cuddle after breakfast.

I dragged a chair in to watch for a while. Viggo The locations are so beautiful -- I want to go to New Zealand! But now his cousin McQueen has come over with a bag of Legos, so the room's going to be a bit crowded. I better do something constructive, like clean up the mess I made in the kitchen.

Hour 3 (11:00): Sean and Orlando The set of Rivendell is so beautiful. Too bad I have to leave to go grocery shopping.

Hour 4 (12:00) Time to order pizza. Marathon Part 2 (The Two Towers) started around 12:20.

Hour 5 (1:00) There's so much Lego. I think McQueen went home and brought back another bag. I can't look. I just got the floor picked up this morning and now...SOB!

Hour 6 (2:00) I keep interrupting Ernest with more boxes to shove to the back of his closet: (Zoob, Slot Cars, Radio Control Cars, The Millenium Falcon Lego Box he says he has to keep). I carry 3 more boxes of toys down to the garage sale pile: (Hot Wheels Tracks, Happy Meal Toys, Bionicles, and a boogie board.)

Hour 7 (3:00) By the way, Ernest has been out of bed for a long time, due to McQueen's presence. He's been on the floor with the Lego for several hours. Now he's playing with the Zoob.
Hour 8 (4:00) Time to start Marathon Part 3 Return of the King! I made an executive decision and moved the marathon to the living room, so I could watch too. It's cooler down here and there are more chairs. McQueen brought the Lego mess supply downstairs.

Hour 9 (5:00) McQueen had to go home, so the Lego has been thoroughly picked up. The Darling Dyson did its magic but could not even find one tiny piece to suck up!

Hour 10 (6:00) The battle rages on. Time for Disc 2.

Hour 11 (7:00) Real food, on real plates for all 4 of us. It's a "family dinner" except we are sitting in the living room. Frank keeps getting text messages, what else is new??!? At least he's in the same room. Frodo and Sam are scaling the evil mountain. Viggo is rousing the troops. [spoilers deleted] I always cry at the end when Viggo says the hobbits bow to no one.

Hour 12 (8:00) Huh? We were done at 8:05. An eleven-hour-a-thon, not a twelver. Ernest did cut off the credits. But there are still hours of Special Features Ahead. (12 hours, says Ernest.)

It's been an interesting day. I would have enjoyed the movies more without the Lego Interval.

Marathon Over. And Out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ernest's Plans for Tuesday

He has decided to have a Lord of the Rings Extended Version marathon tomorrow (Tuesday) from 8 a.m. to 8.p.m. I vaguely recall that these are the approximate lengths of the extended versions:

FOTR - 3 hrs
TTT - 4 hours
ROTK - 5 hours

He said...I can't turn it off for bathroom or snacks. Obtuse mom said, why not? Because I'll go over the time limit. I didn't know it was a race.

I promised to provide ROOM SERVICE because I don't want him to starve. The bathroom business he will have to deal with on his own. I am not providing what the truckers use.

Amusements...or NOT

I've been driving a lot of carpools to the zoo. Sometimes I stay in the big town and amuse myself for a few hours before seeing the zoo show and driving the kids home again.

One day involved Frank's annual maintenance -- that sounds like he's a car! A visit to the optometrist happily revealed that for the first time in almost 10 years, he did NOT need new glasses. And we got him a new cell phone. This was promised for his birthday almost year ago, but he was supposed to be proactive and pick it out. Frank, proactive? So a year later...

Another day I had a lovely brunch with the Handy Husband. He had gone to work early so he was ready for a break at 10:00. We ate at a beautiful sidewalk cafe. I looked up at the blue sky and palm trees while I ate my eggs benedict.

Then I went to the Natural History Museum. I saw some beautiful rocks. The malachite looked like the Emerald City of Oz. So I took a picture, only I didn't realize the flash was on. And then this woman shrieked at me, "DON'T USE THE FLASH!!!" OMG, did I break some rule? Is the museum going to kick me out? No, she was just a busy body visitor. While I was fumbling with the camera (it was dark in the room and I couldn't see the settings) she came over and tried to touch my camera:

Her: "Here. I'll do it for you."Me: "No thanks, I got it." Her [looming even closer]: "Be sure to hold it really still." Me [getting annoyed]: "Excuse me but I know how to take pictures." Her: "Oh, I'm sorry. I talk to my kids like that." Me [thinking how sorry I felt for her kids]: .... I said nothing.

I was not amused so I left the room and went back later when she wasn't there. Anyway, the picture WITH the glare of the flash came out best.

Honestly, doesn't that look like the Emerald City?

Creative License

Ernest has forbidden me to post the video of him in the role of Beaverdude. Darn it. I guess he has his limits of how much he'll allow me to embarass him. He was cute, with his tail flopping and slapping the dam.

And the photos of him as Caterpillar/Butterfly are on my cell phone. How do I get them off of the phone?

I've got a photo of someone else in the caterpillar costume, so I've tackily put Ernest's face on the costume. I am a devious and creative mother.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Class of '78 Rules!

Here we are, ready for our 30th High School Reunion dinner. (I LOVE MY DRESS!) It was fun! We're the only class couple still together. (Our 25th anniv is coming up next month, but if you add the 6 years we "dated" it comes to 31. Wow!) However, we weren't married the longest. Someone else, married to a non-classmate, clocked in at 27 years. There were several 24 year marriages, too.

For fun, I brought this 8th grade picture (1974 -- back when we all looked good in bathing suits) to the picnic on Sunday. Can you find me and the Handy Husband? Frank couldn't, but Ernest could. Yay, Ernest.

Hint, the HH is seated on the ground and I'm seated on the wagon. Give up? I'll post clues or maybe an annotated picture later. Our Senior Class president is in this picture --he gets credit for arranging the reunions. Other classes are forgetful about reunions, but they don't have an on-the-ball president like our class does.

There were 4 grade schools that fed into our high school. Some folks we've known since we were small, others for only the high school years. It's a great bunch of people and it's fun to reconnect. It's funny how the mind works. The HH was talking to someone he didn't recognize, finally the guy said his name and CLICK, all of a sudden the memory banks fired and the person became totally familiar--one of his old buddies! We sat at dinner with another friend who was the HH's roommate after high school. He's got the nicest wife!

It was interesting to see where people's lives have taken them:

  • One man has become a college teacher (after a long career as a contractor) and is going to Iraq to teach English.

  • Another raises beneficial insects for the citrus industry.

  • The woman who lived down the street from me is a pilot.

  • It's too bad the music-teacher-turned-railroad-man wasn't there. An old friend of my husband's, he was fascinated by railroads as a child. Eventually he followed his dream and went to work on a train for real.

  • We wish the class brain (a really nice person) had been able to come. He's a trauma surgeon.

  • RIP to the two women who passed away too young.

  • We didn't talk about those rumored to be in jail!

We are the Champions!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Japan, by Ernest

At long last, here are some of Ernest's pictures. He and Frank saw the same places, starting at opposite ends of the journey. So I've tried not to repeat the same things that were in Frank's photos. Ernest described all the photos to me when he got home, but now I've forgotten. I'll add some detail when he gets back from the zoo today.
Isn't this beautiful?

More bars in more places. Ernest wants to be an architect. He likes interesting buildings. This was taken from a 45th floor observation deck.
Pet dogs.

The Japanese Alps.


A fairy tale village.

Ernest snagged the coveted rear seat.

This beach and cave were in the opening of Prince Caspian.

Ringing the Peace Bell .
The Itsukushima Shrine at high tide. (Frank visited it at low tide.)

Friendly deer at the shrine.

The group!

Friday, August 01, 2008

John "Cougar" Mellencamp

We saw him in concert Wednesday night! Awesome dude. 56 years old and he still rocks. I'll get to the music eventually. Regular readers may know that my concert reviews are usually a commentary on my whole experience.

We went out to dinner beforehand. I've been feeling empty-nestish, but as I people-watched I realized the emptier-nest has its benefits. Across from me was a couple with a toddler boy (about 1 1/2) and the mom was pregnant again. The dad was kept busy the whole time chasing the boy and hardly got to sit down and eat. Next to them was a table with a 3 to 4 year old girl, who was just the wrong size for every seating device they had: High chair, booster, regular chair. Nothing fit. Or maybe she was just squirmy. So that made me appreciate the benefits having older children -- you can go out to a lovely dinner ALONE with your handy husband. Steamed mussels, a nice filet, and a good local Syrah. Mmmmmm!

We borrowed Frank's car because it is easy to park! (Yet another perk of having an older child. Of course it's still legally OUR car so I think we're within our rights to ask to borrow it. Plus we filled the tank afterwards.) Six blocks to the venue, a hike up a hill, and then the stairs in the ampitheater. Why were so many women wearing high heels? They were tottering and wobbling all the way up.

Between the two acts, Lucinda Williams and Johnny boy, the woman next to me got up. "I have to go potty," she announced. "You should go too!" Warning: rant ahead! I don't like strange women telling me to go potty. I have issues with the word "potty" when said by anyone over the age of 3. I worked all school year to get kinders and 1st graders to say "bathroom" or "restroom" instead of the P-word. But I'm polite in public, so instead of ranting like I did just now, I said,"Thank you, but I already went."

This woman caused me issues all night long. Because she was a jiggler, a bouncer, a dancer. Hips, thighs, elbows. She bumped me with all of them. And that was while we were still sitting down. Not to mention she was apparently his biggest fan, because she was singing along to everything. I like to have a good time at a concert, but I don't like someone else's good time to be so distracting!

The man in front of Jeff spent most of the show playing with his new Blackberry. Two rows ahead of us was Frank's friend Boomer (real nickname) and his dad. Boomer looked a little like Frank does when we drag him along to concerts. Bored? I also saw one of my Rose Sisters!!!! (That's a blog post on its own: one of the great group of women I used to work with...and we lunch at Rose Cafe, hence the name.)

Oh, did you want to know about the music? He opened with "Pink Houses." [Can't embed the official video.] That brought back memories. The HH and I had just moved into our first house. His stereo with the giant 7.5' foot speakers went into the teeny tiny spare bedroom. (The master bedroom was the same size.) "Pink Houses" is one of the first songs I remember blasting out of that system. I worried it would bother the neighbors...we soon got over that after we heard how much noise THEY made. One night while the parents were out, one of the 3 older brothers broke the little brother's nose. Nice neighborhood. We weren't there too long.

Next was "Paper in Fire." And his PA went out! Here's this, from another show:

Please, CHECK OUT THE VIOLINIST! My new best friend, bumping around next to me, was totally hot for her. And told her husband that, many times.

By the third song, the PA was intermittent so I went to the bathroom. Privately. Because at that point the restroom was relatively empty, and my seat neighbor wasn't in the bathroom at the same time! After that there was more and more great music.

I can't embed anything "official" from YouTube so here is an a capella group doing an old favorite:

And here's a home video by some nice person,

More and more great songs.

I think he ended, appropriately, with this:

Goodnight, all!