Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year-End Wrap Up: Last Post for 2008

I guess I need to post before the clock strikes midnight. I am inspired by everyone's year end/ best of lists, but I'm not sure I can review the whole year right now, given that I am only one cup of coffee into what will surely prove to be a two cup day (at may be a three cup day...).
So, in my muddled way, I will try to remember the highlights, best ofs, etc.
  • Most surprisingly good movie: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  • Best vacation: I can't choose. Austin; Boulder, Utah; Pinetop/Flagstaff, AZ; Vegas
  • Best Margarita: Mesa Grill, Las Vegas
  • Best Martini: Four Seasons, Las Vegas
  • Best New Drink: Watermelon Margarita (my backyard!)
  • Favorite Book: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
  • Best Gift Received: Keen boots (from MB) and coat/scarf (from my mom)
  • Best Gift Given: The Best of Ogden Nash and NBA socks (to MB)
  • Best Activity: Ragnar Wasatch Back (because of the bonding with my teammates)
  • Best Rediscovered Activity: Tennis
  • Movie that should receive an Oscar, but won't: Slumdog Millionaire
  • Favorite TV show (on DVD): Battlestar Galatica
  • Favorite TV show (on TV): The Office, 30 Rock, Lipstick Jungle, Samantha Who? (I can't choose! I suck at these lists!)
  • Favorite activity: Lunch & a Movie (with Lisa B!)
  • Favorite newly discovered restaurant: Tin Angel
  • Favorite newly discovered divey restaurant: Victor's Tires & Tamales
  • Favorite workout: Master's swimming
  • Best Item I Made: Peach cake
  • Best Item I Ate: (suffering from immediacy) stuffed peppers at Cafe Madrid; sweet potato tamale at Mesa Grill; Winter Green ravioli at Union Square Cafe; Mushroom Soup at Ems; Bread Pudding at Hell's Backbone; Conejo paella at Sylvia & Don's.
That's all I can think of. I'm sure I left something out...but if I remember, I'll mention it next year. See you all on the other side.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sleeping In

The conditions under which I, a mother of a seven-year-old boy, am able to sleep in:
  • son is safely stowed at friend's house for sleep over;
  • drank a considerable amount the night before including, but not limited to: one mojito type cocktail, numerous glasses of red wine, a glass of port;
  • ate a considerable amount the night before including, but not limited to: warm frisee salad with Camembert and grape vinaigrette, lamb chop with dried apricots, pomegranate, and Israeli couscous, various chocolate desserts;
  • sat up reading while trying to digest;
  • went to bed around or after midnight;
  • was awakened at 4:37 a.m. by a stranger trying to get into our house;
  • laid in bed, heart pounding, while MB patrolled the front door, called the police, then observed four squad cars and their various activities for about one hour;
  • tried to go back to sleep around 5:30 a.m., unsuccessfully;
  • finally went to sleep, eventually, only to awaken with a start at 10:57 a.m.
And this, friends, is the story of how I learned that I could, indeed, sleep in.
(Also, it turns out, that the guy was probably drunk and meant to go next door to his girlfriend's house, possibly, and the police made him do the drunk test, cuffed him and put him in the squad car, and searched his car with flashlights but then, maybe, just let him go? I'm not sure.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Stats

Here is some of what we did over the last few days:

  • Last minute Christmas Gifts purchased: three (all for MB, all purchased on Christmas Eve!)
  • Cookies baked: four (peanut butter cornflake chocolate bars, seven layer bars, peanut butter kiss cookies, sugar cookies)
  • Other baking: cranberry maple cake for Christmas breakfast
  • Meals cooked: One (Christmas, Caesar salad, baked potatoes, steaks on the grill, easy!)
  • Other cooking: Spanish style shrimp, which included three parts, making the garlic oil, making garlic chips, then finally cooking the shrimp.
  • Tamales consumed: um...four? five? we ate some the 23rd, the 24th, etc etc etc. We still have some left and will be eating them for dinner tonight.
  • Bottles of wine polished off: please don't make me divulge this number!
  • Christmas movies watched: Three (Christmas Carol, the George C. Scott one; It's A Wonderful Life; A Christmas Story)
  • Presents Opened: A gajilion? All for Son, of course, who got the haul which included a Lego Star Wars ship from Santa, a spirograph, a puzzle, two games, a Rubik's cube, numerous art supplies including a sketching kit and some painting canvases, a spyology book, night vision goggles, and some Wimpy Kid books. I got him some shirts and a sweater and an orange for his stocking!
  • Gifts given: I got MB the NBA socks he so wanted, also two sweaters and The Best of Ogden Nash and a moleskin notebook. He also received a Godzilla action figure from Son, but I'll let him report on that. I gave my sister a bunch of movies, and my mom a book she wanted. That's all. Oh, and various gifts for the neices and nephew.
  • Gifts received: a great exercise shirt and sweater from MB, also the London moleskin, complete with maps, etc, a book from Son. My mother got me a coat and crocheted a scarf to match. Cute! Lip stuff, Luna bars, cocktail napkins.
  • Books read: one, The Subtle Knife. Now I'm on to The Amber Spyglass. I need to finish this series before school starts again!
  • Trips out of the house: in the last two days? None! Which is why I need to get off my fat (cookie) ass and at least go for a walk. I don't want to drive anywhere, even though the hardworking civil servants are plowing and salting, even as I write this.
  • Further festivities: a dinner with Jason's retauntuer friend, a dinner with Otterbutt and Sylvia. Then maybe I can stop drinking for a month. Or at least a week.
Merry Christmas to all! I wish you a fabulous 2009. I hope I get to see you all real soon!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Nothing To Report

I wish I had something to say, but I don't. So here's my blog about nothing.
This morning I asked Son to choose between two of our traditional Christmas cookies and he chose both. So I guess that means that we have to make both. So this morning we'll make the peanut butter, chocolate kiss ones, sugar cookies tomorrow. I hope Son will eat more than his fair share, because I don't think I can eat very many (though I'm sure I will eat more than I should).
What are your favorite cookies readers? Here at our house, it's a tie between the seven layer bars and sugar cookies.
Happy baking and happy eating!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Current Obsessions

Since I got back from Vegas, I have been thinking about the menus for the various days and meals we will or should be eating in the coming days. I have also been trying to pick and choose from among the traditional cookies my family usually makes, asking Son for his input of course.
I haven't made much progress, but I have made some decisions (sort of?). To wit:
  • Christmas Eve: MB has decided that this year, instead of making tamales, we will buy them from Victor's. We took a research trip out there. Delicious!
  • Christmas Day: We'd like to have some local, organic meat, baked potatoes and Caesar Salad. Easy!
  • Appetizers: On Christmas Eve, I'd like to have a selection of appetizers, like the obvious veggie platter, perhaps with our traditional cottage cheese dip or maybe something new, like this herbed goat cheese dip? Or perhaps these Spanish style tapas, such as shrimp or tortilla?
  • What about Christmas morning? I think I'll make the cranberry maple cake I made this year. See these pics from last year.
  • Cookies? I already made the peanut butter chocolate bars. Son demands the 7 Layer Bars. I bought stuff for the peanut butter kiss cookies, but might not make them, because we have to make sugar cookies. Those are required. I'm trying to draw the line there, but I will miss the oatmeal butterscotch chip cookies. But oh well. I'm trying hard not to gain too much weight over break.
  • Drinks? Red wine of course, and maybe some Claus-mopolitans. And perhaps some more bubbly wine. And egg nog, with rum of course. And maybe some Baileys to add to the coffee. Yum....
I would love to hear what you will be eating, especially ideas for appetizers. I think I would rather eat lots and lots of appetizers and save myself the trouble of making any big meals.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"I've never had so many drinks in so short a time": Vegas Redux

That quote is from my sister, Lisa, on Day 2 of our Vegas Extravaganza while we were sipping yet another margarita at a Mexican restaurant. It happened to be our 7th drink. Sigh. So here, for your edification, the stats.
  • Margaritas consumed: 6-- 2 at the hotel the night of our arrival, one at Fat Tuesday in the mall (actually all of shared this one), 2 at Mesa Grill (the best ones of the trip!!), one at lunch at Mexican place at The Palms
  • Other drinks consumed: 2 -- a "dresser" at the hotel (vodka tonic); one extremely delicious dirty martini at the Four Seasons (olives stuffed with bleu cheese!)
  • Meals consumed: 3 (I'm not counting breakfast at the hotel or the guacamole that we ate for dinner after the show). The best meal by far was at the Mesa Grill (yummy pork tenderloin and this delicious sweet potato tamale!), I also had a delicious mushroom quesadilla there, and had some good tacos at a place at the Venetian.
  • Shows seen: 1 (Stomp Out Loud! It was very impressive and fun!)
  • Trashy TV watched: sadly very little, but I did see a bit of "The Starter Wife" which seemed trashy
  • Movies watched: 1 -- "Four Christmases" (cute!)
  • Celebrities Sighted: 0 -- I heard that Donny Osmond was on my flight, but I didn't actually see him.
  • Inappropriate Outfits: too many to count!
  • Hotel Lobbies Seen: I'm going to say 6, but that's an estimate.
  • Dollars Spent Gambling: $2 -- I spent one on something called Cops & Donuts, and one on two cent poker. Edifying.
  • Casinos lost in: all of them. They don't want you to get out!!
  • Times I thought "That is her job. Her JOB.": at least twice, possibly more. First when I saw a woman dancing on a bar, and then when I saw some girls dressed in what can only be described as cop-uniformed themed bikinis (with hats!). It turns out that they were dealers at the Pussycat Dolls tables.
  • Number of times I thought "You're going to drink that?": Every ten seconds on the strip. Most often it was when I saw someone with a 100 ounce margarita. They had them in very tall cups, huge cups that looked like tubs, and cups in the shape of the Eiffel Tower.
  • Amount of fun had: infinite. Mostly just hanging out my family, eating at the Mesa Grill, but also drinking martinis at the Four Seasons (so quiet!), and laughing as we tried to walk in the windiest weather I've ever been in.
I'll post some pics on Facebook.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Birthday Report

I had a lovely birthday, thanks for asking!
I swam in the morning, did some shopping with MB, had a delicious (delicious!) vegetarian lunch (a cashew coconut curry with portabellos and other grilled veggies and brown rice. so! good!), and then went to see "Happy-Go-Lucky" with friends.
First, I love Mike Leigh. I've loved everything he's done except "Naked," which I hated. I loved "HGL" because of its spirit, or what one reviewer called its "invitation to find joy and grace in everyday moments." One reviewer called its pace "leisurely" and I have to agree. But I quite enjoyed the way the movie meandered through Poppy's life and I really, really loved the scene with the Flamenco teacher, which was sad and hilarious at the same time. I heard Leigh on NPR ("On Point") a few weeks ago, and one of the callers made the point that the movie was about teachers (Poppy teaches grade school, she has the Flamenco teacher and a driving instructor), and it is, but it is also about world views. My companions wondered aloud whether they loved Poppy or wanted to kick her in the teeth, but I definitely loved her. I think it's because, as the movie progresses, I came to see the ways in which she is open to the joy around her, but it's not because she ignores the pain, but rather that she tries to understand it, or temper it. I highly recommend this film. It was a great birthday film!
We had a pretty regular dinner, and the wine I've been wanting to try, Sofia (Coppola), which is a sparkling white wine. On the label it says "coming of age, bestowing of presence, petulant, revolutionary, reactionary, poetic, sparkling, ebullient, effervescent, fragrant, cold, cool" which I think describes the wine and/or the woman it takes its name from but which I hope also describes me. I didn't notice the words when I bought it, but it seemed appropriate when I finally read them. In any case, we loved the wine, more than champagne, and will be drinking it again soon!
A friend came over and brought cupcakes, which I think are the best thing ever. They are small, we each had one, and then no leftovers to consume. We chatted with her, then put Son to bed, and then we watched "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" because it's what we had. MB and I loved it, with no reservations. It had some cringe worthy moments, and we laughed out loud, a lot. As far as I could tell, there was nothing, nothing wrong with that movie. I loved that it featured male nudity but very little female nudity.
So all in all, a great birthday. I go to Vegas tonight, which I am really looking forward to.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Canticles and Omens

Perhaps I invest the days leading up to and the day of my birthday with too much importance. I believe, superstitiously, that what I do in these days sets the tone for the coming year and in some ways determines how the year will go. Last year on my birthday I went to IKEA and then drank too much. I won't be letting that happen again, rest assured.
This year I plan on starting the day early with a swim workout, taking Son to school, and doing some shopping at an event that benefits his school. Then I will go out to lunch and see a movie. In the evening, I plan on having some wine, a nice dinner with the family, perhaps a slice of cake, and then going downtown to see the lights and drink fancy hot drinks. A jam packed day, it sounds like!
But, I'm left with this question, on this, the most auspicious of birthdays, what are my wishes?
  • I want to finish the novel (please, god of unwritten novels, please just let me finish! it can even suck!)
  • I want to get some poems together and write some more
  • I want to finish some stories
  • I want to spend more quality time with Son
  • I want to read some really excellent books
  • I want to eat a lot of really good food, but in a moderate way
  • I want to exercise a lot, and run another race this year
  • I want to spend time with my friends
  • I want to learn more about myself
  • I want to take my yoga practice to the HNL
  • I want to just sit with husband, drinking a bottle of wine and watching the sunset, anywhere
  • I want to go to London and Paris (let's keep our fingers crossed)
  • I want to go to the coast
  • I want to take more photographs (with my SRL)
  • I want to speak more Spanish
  • I want to be better at tennis
  • I want to mountain bike
  • I want to ski
  • I want to keep swimming
  • I want to figure out our housing situation (either move or stop thinking about it. It's driving me crazy!)
  • I want to live simply to simply live

Monday, December 08, 2008


Since no one else posted the rules: bold the ones you've done.

1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band (oh yeah, let's hear it for the FJH marching band!!)
4. Visited Hawaii (but I want to...does wanting to count?)
5. Watched a meteor shower (on Cape Cod, in Idaho, in Washington, etc.)
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world (let's hear it for the HHS senior trip!)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo (does in the shower count?)
11. Bungee jumped (and I never will!!)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea (spelled lightning, no?)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch (do hand-turkeys count?)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (Yes, but I think technically it was "beer" poisoning)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables (actually, vegetable: tomato)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked (sort of by accident in Thailand)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (hell yes! And got my boss fired in the process!!)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (you're not supposed to look right at them, right?)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors (not intentionally, but I have been to Ireland and England)
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing (ditto for things I'll never do again!)
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke (Sing with me now "At the Copa!")
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (no, but I gave Christmas gifts to a family)
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance. (thanks to my almost drowning incident)
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (Again, in Thailand)
52. Kissed in the rain (and ran naked in the rain? How about that?)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class (I took Self Defense...)
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (yes, and it made me sick, so I stopped)
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (only once. Don’t tell my mom)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous. (yes, Sharon Olds and Galway Kinnell at my first AWP ever. Lydia Davis, Ron Carlson. I bumped into Robin Williams, but does that count as meeting? Also David Kirby, later. Richard Buckner. Does it count if they become famous later? I used to work with Nick from Death Cab for Cutie.)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (Although I don’t think “swimming” is quite the term).
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee (so many times it's ridiculous!)
100. Ridden an elephant

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I Love Coffee!

I didn't post yesterday, but for good measure let's just say that yesterday I was thankful to reach a milestone in end of the semester hoops (almost done!) and that I was also thankful that we found the place we got our tree last year, a local garden shop and the tree was less than $50 (which seems to be the starting price?!), and it took us about half-an-hour.

Today, I am thankful for coffee. MB tipped me off to this cool & funny tribute to coffee, which I share with you. Today I'm going to finish grading and decorate the tree (it's small and really quite adorable). Then I'll take Gus for a walk (off leash!), and then go to Book Club. I'm thankful for all these little gems in my life (dog, books, friends, canyons, etc.).

Friday, December 05, 2008

These Are a Few of My Favorite Words

Last night, I made the mistake of saying that "bi-otch" was one of my favorite words (which it is!! I swear!!), but then I couldn't think of any long, beautiful words that are also my favorites, so I was left with that. But now that I've had time to think about it, here's my list, in no particular order:
  1. Omphaloskepsis: navel gazing
  2. Canticle: it means "I'm a pretty word!" No, it means hymn, but to me it also suggests candle light
  3. Tangential: divergent
  4. Jeeves (as in "I fancy a martini, Jeeves.")
  5. Like ( I like, like you, you know? or He's, like, like a girl.)
  6. Flibbertigibbet: whimsical person
  7. Phoneme: a sound, uttered
  8. Glossolalia: speaking in tongues
  9. Synesthesia: crossing of senses
  10. Sesquipedalian: polysyllabic (I used this in a poem once and it drove my teacher crazy!!)
What, dear readers, are your favorite words?

Thursday, December 04, 2008

In Which I Plaigiarize From Son

I am just tired, tired, tired. So I will steal a poem from Son and let that be my post for the day.

awestruck like a dog
foresty blackness blinding
sunlight coming

He's been studying haiku and he wrote three or four yesterday. But I like that. Sunlight coming. It's gots too, right?
Originally the first line was awestruck like a monkey, which had too many syllables. Too bad, because I wanted to see where that was going.

Today, I am thankful for Son and his inspiring creativity.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Best of Lists: A Complaint

Why are everyone's end of the year BEST lists so predictable? Take this one for example. Now, I know these people read all year long, new books, that's their job. (That's their job! How did they get so lucky??) But...why so predictable Michiko Kakutani and Janet Maslin? (I know there are others, but theirs are the only names I know...)
I'm happy to see Steven Millhauser on the list, because even though he's been around a long time, he's not very popular. So who am I not happy to see on the list? Toni Morrison and Jhumpa Lahiri. First of all, does anyone not know about Toni Morrison? Say you wander in to your local bookstore and see this book propped up on a table. Is anyone likely to pick it up and say, "Hmm...Toni Morrison...never heard of her"? No! So the NYT book review does not need to promote books that will be read no matter what. People will pick up that book. What they need to do is point out to me a writer I have never heard of and say, "People!! You should be reading this book!! What have you been doing? Put down that 'Twilight' shite and read this. This!!" That's what I want them to do for me.
And I am sorry, but I am not (NOT!) going to read any of those nonfiction books. They are all about war, war, war, and egomaniacs. Blah!
Sadly, I read very few (2?) book published in 2008. But, of the books I read, I can tell you which ones I liked.
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: This was very good. It had dogs and a sympathetic narrator, and did I mention dogs? Also, it used some parts of "Hamlet," which I just taught. I thought it was well written and did not draw attention to its own style, unlike some other books that I read that were published this year, but will not appear on this list.
The Long Goodbye: Do I even have to explain this?
All the mysteries by Arnaldur Indridason: If you haven't read these, get on it. The new one comes out in February.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: This was really good and sweet. I think I might teach it in my novel class.
Lucky Jim: Funny!
Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender: Why isn't she on the list???? (oh. it was published last year.)
Blink: I love Gladwell's style.
Time's Arrow: There's no Amis, like old Amis. Apparently. When I saw him in NYC, I thought he was a blowhard, but I loved this book. Love.
Writing at the End of the World by Richard E. Miller: I actually want to reread this. It was great.
Okay, one more: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. It took me awhile to get into this one, but I really liked it.

So, having criticized lists and created one, I'll say I'm thankful for books and all those hardworking folks who write them.
Please, friends, tell me what books you loved this year. I'm sad to say that no book made me cry or rethink my life, but I'd have to say Edgar Sawtelle came closest.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Obama: Bringing Sexy Back

Is it just me, or does Barack Obama make a friendly handshake look like an intimate opportunity in this photo with Hillary Clinton? You really should get the paper and look at it in order to get the full effect. I think, "Wow!" and then I think, "Hillary deserves to be looked at like that by a man." And "if not one President, then another." You know.
I think it's a good thing Obama has an emissary to represent him around the world. Otherwise leaders, male and female, would be swooning.
Obama: Bringing Sexy Back to the White House (and not in the way Clinton did)(in a Good way)
Or is it charisma? Or charm? Or is it just plain sexiness?
Sigh. On this second day of my birthday month, I am thankful for Obama.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Happy December!

Now that we have entered the month of my 40th birthday, I think it's important that I treat every day like a celebration. To wit, I am celebrating Monday the First, the first day of the last week of class, with some TV (Samantha Who?) and a delicious drink (Jack & Ginger).
Today is World AIDS day. So today I want to remember all those lost to this disease, and also to be thankful for my health and the health of those I love.
I love you all! Stay healthy!