Saturday, December 27, 2008

The mystery of the holidays

Tonight we watched wonderful fireworks at the Winterfest (which we gave a pass to for the daytime stuff for the first time since moving was cold AND wet, so traipsing around town didn't feel too appealing - PLUS we were able to give Theresa a google-up on a couple of the questions they needed to answer correctly to qualify for the trip to Disney!) JAC stayed home, just Ori and Becky and I made it. We have enjoyed visits with a ton of wonderful friends (though there are some we haven't seen much of this holiday...ahem!). We have chocolate biscotti from Caroline and Tom and the most HUMONGOUS basket full of chocolate from the Pillays, scratchies still to scratch and lots of fun games and stuff to play. In general, though I find people wearisome in general, they are cheerier this time of year than any other season. And listening to my almost 4 yo singing "I wish you a merry Christmas" 8000 times is sweet, if eventually deafening. So the mystery of the season? Why am I so crabby???

I joined the gym early (and snagged an awesome coupon!), which has made the end of 2008 a good kick in my pants! I am into going, right now, hopefully pairing it with some Wii Fit exercise, maybe breaking the seal on the ole treadmill from Canada, and a few good walks with Zami should round out the exercise scenario for me in the next few months. The pounds that have come off - not a mystery. The stuff stuck to the bottom of the table? Mysterious. And disgusting. Why the digital watch I got my 10yo doesn't work, why the singing card my SIL sent Ori stopped working, why the kitchen can not stay clean for 20 straight minutes...all mysterious. Which phone belongs on the upstairs charger? Mysterious. Where all the chocolate chip fudge brownies went? Not mysterious. Just look at the almost 4yo's shirt. And pants. And the table. And under the table. Sigh.

Which would I prefer - to be able to change the past or see the future (my beer bottle is asking). Well, I think to change the past (if I HAD to). I like mysteries. I like finding people who look nothing like what they used to look like on facebook and figuring out where I know them from when they friend me. The mystery of the holidays this year - why I am looking forward to next year. :-D

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stampede for greed.

"Shoppers on New York's Long Island broke down doors and surged into the Valley Stream Wal-Mart at 5 a.m. last Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, known as "Black Friday," traditionally the busiest retail shopping day of the year.

Jdimytai Damour, 34, was knocked to the ground and trampled to death. He had been assigned to cover security as an independent contractor." (from Reuters on Wed. Dec. 3rd 2008)

I completely 'get' the tight budgets this (and most) years. We are tight too! That still would NEVER get me to cause damage to someone to get a toy at 40% off. It would never EVER get me to neglect my common sense, or to join in a mob of any kind. My integrity, and every single person's right to life is so far and away more important than any possible discount, that this never should have happened.

The greed that inspired this 'mob' (definition: a large crowd of people, esp. one that is disorderly and intent on causing trouble or violence) is so deeply rooted in our social well being, that it may be too late to redirect social norms to value human life over material gain. Those shoppers involved (you know who you are!) will now be able to offer their children, not one quality toy, but a buttload of toys under the tree. I am truly sickened. To you I say: you know you were out of control. It is YOUR responsibility to be true to your morals (is it really ok with you if someone else tramples you child in a mad rush to get a cheaper Guitar Hero? What if it were you? Is there some kind of monetary formula you can think of that would REPLACE you to your family? Can you possibly explain this to me, to yourself? Can you explain it to your children? Here ya go little Suzy, here's your new Barbie Remote Control Car that I got after trampling a few people - aren't I just the most dedicated, wonderful mommy ever!).

Why is it Wal Mart's fault that a man was accidentally suffocated by trampling under a completely insane mob of materialistic cheapos. I believe in the end that they provided a modicum of protection for their employees - it was the SHOPPERS who were out of control, and truly who are to be held responsible, not the store. I truly hope that the cameras can help police to target those individuals who ARE responsible, so that they may be held accountable for their horrendous behavior.

Without excusing this accountability, there is an overabundance of advertising for sales and savings at these big box stores. More important than quality, employment, production, need, education, or even profitability is the need to feed the public greed. Shame on you too. So many parents feel the pinch already, and you advertisers are so busy selling these products to children (who put the screws to their parents at every turn) that it can really ramp up the tension in crowded situations. Stop selling to children, and let good products sell themselves.

In many ways, this incident is a signal in blood. The credit crunch/mortgage/recession thing going on - all supposedly started because so many Americans too loans WAY too big for them to truly afford - is also about being responsible for your own behavior. Whether you are part of a mob or part of a swindle, it's increasingly important for people to consider their part in every thing they do - rush through the doors of a bank or a toy store - rushing is not likely to gain them in the end. And the costs are off the radar, impacting lives in so many ways. Whether the magnitude is a national economy or one life, I believe the crisis is not a singularity, but a social cry of attention to get back to moral basics.

I send profuse, humble apologies to the family of Jdimytai Damour, as well as the others who were hurt in the stampede for greed. I am so deeply disturbed that my fellow citizens would do this. I am truly horrified at how he died, and I send you blessings; may his death bring direction to those who have lost their moral compass, and may you and he find peace in a place filled with love.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks Giving.

I am eternally grateful for my family, my incredible partner, my amazing children. I am grateful to our friend Zami, and all the other animal friends that have come and go. I am grateful for reasonably excellent health, for myself and so many of the people that I love. I am grateful there are clear streams and wild forests left. I am grateful for change, more so for the ++ than the negative, but it takes both kinds. I am grateful for the little things, like a working camera and enough money for christmas and chanukah gifts. I am grateful for a resilient economy, smart people helping me make hard decisions, and leadership when we really need it. I am grateful there are people doing it better than the USA, people to reach up to and admire. I am grateful for merciful death and joyful days of life, bright sunshine on hot sand and cool oceans, lakes and rivers. I am grateful for my own life, and for the time I have here to spend with people I really truly love.

So what's for dinner???

Well, I'm bringing some delectables...a veggie lasagna with tofu ricotta and home made spinach and tomato garlic sauce, plus a sweet potato stuffed squash (garahm marsala and pumpkin pie spiced), and coconut cream pumpkin pies. And cool whip, of course! Saraine will be bringing her green bean special, which is super nourishing. And I think there will also be bread, if Mary doesn't butter it. I think I may buy myself some corn bread stuffing to make down there, because tbh it's tough for me to think of Thanksgiving (capital T) without stuffing! I can totally do w/out the turkey, but no stuffing? Seems too harsh for moi. So I will likely do my own, though Mary has occasionally thought to make some outside the bird (but then she puts butter in it!). I'm a tough nut to cook for, that's for sure! And cranberry sauce is always nice, plus wine (always yummy!). And to me, folks, that is a MAJOR celebration of THANKS-GIVING! WOOT!

Monday, November 10, 2008

WHMS made prime time news this week, w/the new kinetic/solar water pump that Grace and Daniel's Mom and Dad, the Cavannaghs have built on the new playground. Sabre Technologies Inc. has done an incredible job getting the kids into the project, and helping them to learn about scarcity, poverty, peace, and giving - not to mention some science!

Lions and crocodiles and buffalos, oh my!

Holy mother of all animals - this is an impressive piece of natural wonder! It's about 8 min. long, and worth it!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Halloween Party 2008

Although somewhat out of sequence, I hadn't uploaded party pix before writing that bit about the election (which I am STILL in disbelief over, happy, but disbelieving!). So this will be out of chronological order, but hey - sue me!

Getting ready for the party:
- bowls of cool whip w/worms inside!
-getting the pile of hay ready!
-JAC at the BBQ making 'bat wings'

Hay hunt for kids, and adults!

It was loads of fun, everyone found something, some interesting stuff, some just fun! Over $10 was won in scratchies, I feel like it brings good luck to our household financially! Hey, a girl can hope, can't she!?

The kids also enjoyed some other activities, like a pumpkin pinata,

and a worm finding contest - gummy worms hidden in bowls of cool whip!

As well as a few things like a cluck hunt (quite a riot, actually), and a costume parade. The kids had a blast, the adults drank an astonishing amount of green punch - all in all a really fun party!

Gratuitous pics:

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

November 4th through Jan 20

November 4th we vote for the 44th President of the USA. Hail to the Chief! January 20th we bring on board the 44th President - on my son's 4th birthday! I have my reservations about them both, but I have so many about McCain that I just don't think it's worth going into here. Over a beer, maybe. ;-) Barak, I think, has just one potential failing point - so get ready to get po'd at me about that!

So what do I agree with that Obama professes he will either attempt to or accomplish? Well, for one, he's pretty honest about not being able to get it all done. He's said it, and I believe him. It's not likely he's going to change the face of American international diplomacy in the next 4-8 years. Or our economy, or our energy usage. Even if he tried really, really hard. That sucks, but it's honest.

Next, I think he's on the right track w/health care. It's a tricky subject, and one that state's right'ers will fight tooth and, well, the rest of their bodies, I suppose, but National Health Care is really the wtg. There are just too many Americans w/out jobs, insurance, savings, trust funds, and rich aunties who will bail them out if they get sick, or even just need something like a tooth pulled. Did you know it cost $200 to get a tooth pulled? Forget about replacing that tooth, just getting it pulled will cost a weekly allotment of food other than pasta for 10 weeks!

Further, I agree with his wisdom about leaving women to care for and decide about their bodies. Their pregnancies, their fertility (or sterilization), these are not national issues. How we got that backasswards, I just can't fathom.

I think Obama has a pretty good idea of where we need to get to in our energy policies, and I think he's got a pretty good plan for how to get there. Incentives to both the companies and individuals to make and use energy efficient houses, cars, appliances, lights, and figuring out how to recycle more of our waste is really a long term plan that can't be put off any longer. Seriously!

They are pretty close in their immigration policies, but honestly, I think McCain's idea of making it harder for the illegal immigrants living here to subsist, including prohibiting them from being insured, is cruel and not going to get them to leave - it'll just fill up emergency rooms and will cost MORE than the insurance itself. So not smart, imho.

I think where I might fall off the wagon w/Obama (though McCain was not really a better 'choice') is his national economic plan. He's inheriting a godforsaken mess of a national economy, and I really don't 'get' his plan to whip it back into shape. I googled it, I listened to it, I read it. I just don't quite get it. It's maybe too far from the macro econ. I took 20 years ago, or my head is totally not economically organized, or maybe it makes no sense (to me, to others? I dunno). But like I said, McCain's policy isn't any better.

The US Government is currently spending 600,000,000,000$ on wars (but not veterans). That's a lot of 0's. We've got the Emelda Marcos of tanks over here, and a tank cost a pretty penny these days! But, seriously, to spend that much money on something that has no positive impact on the American people is like totally wasteful and disrespectful to the Americans who work hard and pay taxes. So Obama has a plan that will wean us off this expenditure, and like all good addicts we will need to make the adjustment slowly. Having a bit more tax money around than we are used to is likely to shake things up a bit (and let's be honest, we could spend that money paying down debt or putting it into mortgages or investing in alternative energy, but why not just blow it on goofy stuff, since it's extra anyway!). I DO think it's only fair to give the Iraqi and Afghan people a chance to realize that w/out our soldiers there, they CAN make their countries livable, so a slow return to 'normal' will benefit them, and give our soldiers a segue into a peaceful reality. Poor soldiers. :-(

Well, that's about it - I could spew on about McCain and Palin, but tbh I just am sick of them. I really really really hope Joe and Barak get the chance to make a dent in the issues and problems we are facing - my gratitude to them for their incredible energy and hard work!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Omnivore’s Hundred

Here are the instructions:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (I wrote never, 'cause I can't figure out how to cross off in html)
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

Andy's Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros (but I've made a tofu version)
4. Steak tartare -never
5. Crocodile -never
6. Black pudding -never
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari -never
12. Pho -never
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart (as a kid in NYC)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle -never
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream -never
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras -never
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese -never
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche -never
28. Oysters -never
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda -never
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl -never
33. Salted lassi -never
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea -never
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo -never
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects -never
43. Phaal -most likely never
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu -fever!
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel -truly would starve first. never
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin -never ever.
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi -never
53. Abalone -never
54. Paneer -never
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal -seriously doubt it.
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads -never
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs -never ever ever.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears, or funnel cake
68. Haggis -truly never ever.
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette -totally never.
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini -oh no. not ever.
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill -unlikely
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail -never. period.
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini -never
81. Tom yum - probably never
82. Eggs Benedict -probably never.
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef -never
86. Hare (as in rabbit?) never.
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse -probably never.
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam -never ever!
92. Soft shell crab -never
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor -never
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake -never

Not eating seafood or dairy makes many of these moot, but also being vegetarian eliminates many that I once ate (like catfish and a hot dog from a street vendor (and lox!) that I actually miss sometimes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

New Yawk City!

Mary and Beca had a tea date at the American Girl store in Manhattan on Friday Oct. 24th. So I played along and we took the train down together, a great couple of hours w/my girl! and then we hit Penn Station with a BANG! Slammed our way out down up and over to my folks apartment, dropped our gear, wet kissed everyone including Winnie the dog, and then decided to sashay down to Chinatown for dim sum. Dim Sum at 8:30pm? you say! Wel, New Yawk City said that too. So we wandered over to Little Italy and found some wonderful (if poorly served) pasta on Mulberry Street. Home again, we crashed hard, and woke early to start our day right. Starbucks!

Bob had work work work to do, so I waited w/B for Mary to surface, and then I split, leaving those two to their devilish deeds. I walked over to 1 Penn Plaza and was guested into the secure part of the building, where I got to once again marvel at Bob's view of lower Manhattan. Ahhh. We took the subway together downtown, he departing at 14th St. and I continuing down to the Lower East Side.

There, I walked. A lot. It was a gorgeous Fall day, with a hint of a breeze, the temps were in the 60's, and there were pumpkins and fall colors everywhere! Quite to my surprise, the LES is quite nuveau these days. There are tons of galleries, clothing boutiques, and off-market shops for things like dog clothes, vegetarian shoes, and funky eateries, many of them vegan! I bought a pair of vegetarian shoes (of course!), and then sidled across the street to the Lower East Side Visitors Center. Crowded and cluttered, the women there were awesome nice, and really extended themselves for me. Then across the street I spotted a spa. I didn't need anything done to my skin (the toxins and dirt in NYC is harsh, but I had only been there 12 hours), but I was kind of in the mood for a haircut. So I asked if they did that kind of thing, and she said no. So I asked (nicely) if she knew of anywhere, and she said no. Then she asked the fella sitting on his keister and he said yes, and walked me down the block and around the corner to Broome St. where there was an awesome little hair salon, Fringe! It was VERY funky and fun, offering up vegan delites like breakfast brownies, pumpkin (or maybe sweet potato) walnut scones,etc., and I was able to get in with Jacqueline after only 10 minutes or so (not even enough time to look through the magazines and find someone I was aiming to look like). She and I talked a minute or two, then I got a nice wash and condition, then under the scissor. Holy good haircut, batgirl! I walked outta there feeling free and clean and lighter of purse and head. Right across the street I found a little shop making halloween candy - totally fun to watch, and I got to buy the candy right after it was made!

I meandered about, checking out how the tenements (aka lofts) had changed so much.

Falaffal in the East Village (and used CD's, and a wig for B's Halloween costume), a chill session with some tea and feet UP in St. Mark's Square.

(I love urban trees - they must be one of the most tenacious types of creatures on earth)

and then a trip uptown to the Strand, which always, consistently and thoroughly blows me away. I bought Veganomicon for ten (yes TEN) dollars (certainly looks) new, and a couple other cook books to support my new veggie habits, and a knitting book (useful and fun to read on the subway when pulling out the actual knitting is too hard).

Then meandered eastward toward 9th ave, and up town to 21st to meet Megan at Bombay Talkie. Other than some kind of weird karmic energy around getting cars ticketed and towed (resulting in a bit of extra run around in parking and then in popping quarters into the meter)

It was kind of expensive, but the food was really very good. The menu was a bit too limited for moi (though it WAS good!), and the service was great! Megs managed not to get towed, we talked and ate and laughed for 3 hours, when her guilty conscience convinced her to free up the table and go home to help Tim clear out the spare bedroom for his mom's visit on Saturday. So I was too late, really, to catch a movie w/Poppy, but we hung out and chatted for a nice while on the couch, and it was - all in all - an AMAZING day! I failed to detail the galleries, the pickle lady, and a host of other entirely NEW YAWK sites, which were all part of my wonderful experience. YAY!

On getting home, I got to meet Mia, Beca's new American Girl doll, and her skates, and the skirt to match the tights that match the skates (and the sweater that matches the skirt, and the headband that matches the sweater and on and on and on), and was given a lesson in using the spray bottle, and then made her clean it all up and go to bed. Long day for little girls. We both crashed pretty hard.

The next morning we jumped into the Pilot and Mary drove us to Hastings where we visited for a few hours with Jackie and Mike, Liana and Max. Totally yummy soup and salad for lunch, and as always, a great visit with wonderful friends. Sounds like their trip to Gay Paris was amazing!!!

The entire weekend I've been reading The 19th Wife, which is very popular right now, but not a great topic for Mary and I to discuss on the downtown NRQ train. I'm too anthropological to like the way to book was written, even if I enjoy the mystery of the murder. So I'm finishing that one up and reading Ink Death, which is scary as heck, but I really enjoyed the first one so much I laboured through the second and (evidently) now the third. Cornelia, lighten up, sistah.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mentally irresponsible

I lost Orin at the library. He is 3, so very very three. When we'd been there a while, done ALL the puzzles, twice, some of them thrice, looked at the fish, played with the toys, picked out an obscene number of books, and chosen a few movies, it was really really time to go. I asked him to come with me to check our stuff out. I don't generally leave w/out him, even if he's being stubborn, but he was being silly and stubborn and I was getting mad. So I backed off, took the library basked (very heavy) with me, and went to the archway that divides the children's from the adult library. I stood looking at the display there (a nice one about autumn and apples), and waited for him to come along. Instead the little pisher snuck around the backside of the children's library, and while I was looking across the children's section waiting for his little tow head to appear, he went behind me, right out the door (maybe he didn't see me?) down the hall out the two sets of electric doors and down the path to the sidewalk. Well, not seeing his little self arriving any time soon, I put the basket down, and walked down to the back of the children's section to see where the HECK he was. Nowhere, is where he was! So as I am hurrying back across the children's section (realizing that he's 90% likely to have gotten behind me, not hiding under a table in a far corner), there's a lady with him up on the counter at the main circulation desk. That moment of absolutely freezing panic receded, overtaken by embarrassment and a bit of anger at this imp, he was obviously fine, and he hadn't been gone more than two or three minutes (how come he doesn't walk that fast when we NEED him to?). So I thanked the woman, I asked her if he'd been scared. She said no. Then proceeded to tell me that I was mentally unstable and an irresponsible parent, to let the child wander away by himself. The librarian chimed in to let me know that there is a sex offender living in the neighborhood. Honestly, I was truly taken aback by it all. I have rescued more than one child in my time, little ones just walking, older ones who lost their group or family, there was never ever even once the idea that the parents were negligent because the child had wandered away. I grew up in a family that encouraged and gave opportunities for their children to become independent, smart decision makers, and to learn when independence was appropriate and when to stick with the crowd. It turned me into someone who has globally traveled in some places many people wouldn't DREAM of visiting, and I got to experience things they never will. I treasure those memories, they are my pride and joy (after my naughty children). My parents may not have done everything right, but I wish for nothing more than to be mentally irresponsible and give my children that same confidence, smarts, and independence that will open up to them vistas and pathways that fear and dependence keeps closed. But maybe when he's 4.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Presidential problems

I thought this was just grand! Not 'a' grand, but grand in the witty American tradition - a little pinch in the butt of our collectively disreputable Wall Street (who should have their freaking teeth kicked in right about now). I am so much further disgusted by the greed, corruption, and well, GREED of some Americans (who shall forever remain nameless and faceless, but you KNOW who you are!) that truly, we can not get out of this country fast enough. If there were something to generate sufficient income for us, we would be gone. I'm as patriotic as the next guy, but it is seriously DISGUSTING what we are doing with our tax dollars, and what we choose to allow our citizens in powerful positions in business to get away with. Disgusting.

A little lower down on my high horse is the election itself. What's up with asking questions to which there is no real answer? And what is up with candidates who can't be bothered to go out on a limb for, well, anything? I certainly understand not wanting to make too much of a commitment to something obviously not going to happen, say redistribution of wealth in the USA. But what about some stuff like which programs have you decided are going to get the axe? Or reduced funding? What is the plan with NCLB? Where would you drill for oil, if you could? I'd like some answers, even if it isn't ALL the answers. And a bit more umph - not defensiveness, power, charisma, presidential appeal. And stop making comparisons between JFK and BHO. They really have very little in common.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Light theft

Stolen from an MDC mama's blog - at her request! The answers are my own. Feel free to copy/paste for yourself! :D

Four jobs I've had:

1. CS at REI
2. Workshopping for foresters in South Africa
3. working the register at the local HFS
4. translating a workbook for Girl Guides in Zimbabwe

Four movies I can watch over and over:

1. Star Wars. Pretty much any of them.
2. Lord of the Rings, all of them.
3. The Notebook
4. The Girl From Paris.

Four places I've lived:

1. Tsawwassen BC. CAN.
2. Delmar NY
3. Harare Zimbabwe
4. New Haven CT

Four TV shows I love:

1. As Time Goes By (disc.)
2. Heroes
3. Seinfeld
4. Northern Exposure

Four places I've vacationed:

1. Nederland Colorado
2. Brugges, Belgium
3. Siesta Key near Sarasota, FL
4. Kalalau Trail/Beach, Na Pali Coast State Forest Hawaii

Four of my favorite dishes:

1. Really good vegan lasagna (no mushrooms).
2. Mama's Minestrone (I da mama)
3. A very thin slice of goat cheese from France with a tiny smidge of quince paste.
4. Deep dark chocolate cake. With sprinkles.

Four sites I visit daily:

1. Gmail
2. MDC
3. Yahoo
4. Facebook

Four places I would rather be right now:

1. Here's pretty dang good - but ok, Hawaii might be better!
2. Robert's Creek BC
3. Musoma, on the shores of Lake Tanzania
4. Rafting pretty much any river. Almost - some of them get pretty rough!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Beebe Hill

In my capacity as coordinator of the Fall Family Hike for WHMS, I have checked out 4 trails/hiking areas that seemed appropriate. They were! It was hard to choose ONE, but one is really all we need - a short-ish, mildly challenging, very natural trail with lots of attractions for kids aged 3 - 13, and adults aged 20something to 60something. Not TOO demanding!

The first place I checked out with my family was Christman's Sanctuary. It was LOVELY! Ori and JAC both did great there, and enjoyed it a lot. My hesitancy was two fold: 1. a LOT of slippery rocks - seemed like a recipe for disaster with a load and a half of little kids. 1a. not a lot of parking. This isn't MAJOR, but it is a consideration. 2. it is kind of far from where most of the community this is geared at live. MOST are in the Chatham ->Bethlehem area, with a few in the Schenectedy/Guilderland area, and the majority in the Albany/Bethlehem/Greenbush area. So ...

The next place I checked out was the Pine Bush. LOTS of trails to choose from, easy to make it a loop, longer, shorter, and great parking. But I must say, that overall there is a lot of noise, and not a lot of variation in the terrain.

Third was a lovely trail in Thatcher State Park, it was a nice balance of flat-ish and hilly, but it didn't have very much in the way of interesting things for the kids. I probably could have searched other trails for a better variety, but I was running out of Ori-free time, and wanted to check out this last one, Beebe Hill.

Beebe Hill is on the NY - MASS border, in the Taconic Hills looking East toward the Berkshires.

Looking East

Looking West

Opal Pond

And this is the one I've chosen. There are creeks, a pond, lots of bridges, and at the top, a firetower (the hill is otherwise rather unimposing, as hills go!), 9 flights of 9 stairs - not for the faint of highted heart. There's a new composition book up there that a sprightly soul has left for visitors, and I really enjoyed taking photos there, my bento lunch in the box on top of the tower, and a lovely few hours of solo hiking.

The Family Hike is Oct. 4th, weather permitting - wish us all luck!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Holy cow - and I thought our basement flood was awful!!! It's really hard to 'imagine' how much of life there is inconvenient, uncomfortable, difficult, sweaty, thirsty, hungry, and cabin fevery. :( My thoughts and prayers to you all!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Schools in!

Ori's first week of school - he's done an awesome job of transitioning to 1) school 2) carpool 3) earlier bedtimes night before carpool (2 of the 3 days) and 4) being an all around amazing kid! He's supportive of Beca and her school experience, he's kind to the other children, he's a good sharer, is having fun, making friends (even knows someone's name in his class!), and is enjoying the class pet (still waiting to hear her name) - the guniea pig. In the next couple of months I'll sign him up for Gymnastics, but I will give him a few months to adjust to this schedule (and catch up with the gym crowd when the weather gets colder).

B is having a great start to the year. She is feeling very in the midst and amongst, as a 5th grader. She has Molly, the only 6th grade girl in her room, who is a friend, and Lorann, who is also a friend, though not as close a friend, and several nice 4th grade girls, as well as all the boy-ness in her class, which is boy heavy. She is looking forward to newspaper this year, and may have some more responsibility this year, since it's only 4th and 5th graders this year. We'll see... She's taking Hebrew/Religion on Sundays (9-1) and Guitar on Wed., as well as Aikido and an every-other-week schedule for Scouts. A busy kid!

I will have some pictures to post soon, hopefully. :D

Monday, September 01, 2008


I can't believe the entire month of August has sped by! We took one trip to Lake George, a good time, all in all, and otherwise we've spent every day here at home, going to the pool, running errands, library time, playgrounds. Seems like it was just a couple of weeks ago that we were waiting at the airport for Loreena! Well, in addition to the week in Lake George, Theresa and I had a fabulous weekend in NYC. We spent ALL day Saturday (9am till 11pm) walking! We figured out of those 14 hrs. 12 were spent on our feet - and it was AWESOME! We had 1 hr. in a spa/pedicure place called Green Tea, very very nice. The 10 min. chair massage was the best part for ME, but I can see why people go for the pedicures. We ate Dim Sum in Chinatown, gelato in Little Italy, watched the waterfalls at night, lit eerily and spewing river water like an overgrown urban maw. Seeing Mark at dinner was very nice too, although in just a very few moments I was reacting to his little kitties. He did a nice thing, loaning us some guitar books for Beca (who starts Wednesday!).

And yup, here we are - 10:30 the night before school starts again! It's amazing to me. We saw Tea at the pool today - she's so sweet to B when L isn't around. Bleh. I wish she'd stop being so catty and schizophrenic about her friendships! It's confusing to B who has a pretty good grasp of it, but it's still a lot easier to be friendly with someone who is just overall a nice person. le sigh. ANYway, we've had a wonderful summer! We are all tanned and leaner than when it started. Poor Zami is not well, but we are otherwise in good shape. Jerry is walking much better, and is really quite useful around the place these days. Having a big girl help out is wonderful, too. She helped schlep the big tote box up to the attic, and move stuff up and down from the basement to set up the playroom in the LR, now that the basement is unlikely to ever get fixed up. Another sigh.

And Gustav has passed by with only a smidgen of the damage that was expected. Le PHEW! Kathy and crew are all back home, which is awesome, and Sweet Ole Nor'leans is pretty much left alone. Looks like more work on the levees will happen, and that'll make the other side of the canals safer.

I've gotten into Goji berries lately, they're a wonderful food! I like to snack on a few now and then. I like to bake with them. I may toss them into a smoothie for B in the AM. Lots of uses. :D

And so September rolls in. It's super nice out this week, till Hurricane Hannah blows our way late in the week. We start our new schedule, which is looking busy.

M - school, aikido
Tu - school, nursery school, aikido
Wed - school, nursery school, guitar
Thurs - school, newspaper, Girl Scouts
Fri - school, nursery school
Sun - Religious School, Curling (maybe).

This mixed in with other odds and ends of life, plus me getting a few hrs. off a few days a week (whoopeeee!), it's all a rather busy place to be. Happy, but busy.

Next: fix the basement, chimney, and start taking paper off the kitchen walls.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Negotiating potholes

This weekend seems to have brought more than our fare share of potholes (life's, not the road's). On Friday, we got a call from the ToB's insurance assessor, who will be coming out to assess damages on Wed. morning. What to do!? Put things back, or not? So we've put enough things back to use the washer/dryer (thank goodness!), have our 'pantry' set up, and use the deep freeze. JAC has about 1/2 of his workbench back, which is somewhat useful, but the toys and stuff are still all stacked up. Do we get an estimate or 3 for repairing the damage? Do we find out how much a sump pump will cost to have installed (with battery backup?). No clear answers...

On Saturday Katherine came for a sleepover, inspiring B to want to take up cheer leading. Where's the eye-popping smilie??? I don't think it's completely inappropriate, but it IS a stretch for me, who has moved so far from mainstream to condone cheer leading as an appropriate after-school activity. And it means giving up (at least temporarily) Aikido, which both JAC and I feel is really super useful for her. AND it's 4x/week for the next 4 weeks, then it's 2x/week for 11 weeks, plus weekend games and competitions. WHERE's that smilie? So negotiations began. It wasn't all pretty, but we've agreed that she has to reach purple belt (about 2 more years) before she can quit Aikido, and that cheer will be an option at that time. Additionally, she has to have awesome school work and be doing her chores regularly at home before she's up for consideration. It's my hope that by then she's too far behind the gang to start it...though I'm sure she'll hold that against me/us.

On Sunday I decided that sitting at the pool w/Ori climbing on me for 2+hrs. every day for the next five days (even with all the books, puzzles, games, cars, etc. that I bring each time) is just NOT working for me. So I went to WF (wallfart) and picked up a DS with a few games. Since B left the PSP on the train in NYC, I figured out a way to get through the next few months w/out her sneaking/lying about the DS - she can't use it at ALL until Oct. 16th. After that, she can EARN it and use it WITH PERMISSION from JAC or me.

Next we negotiate with Ori about riding his bike in the street (as his neighbor friends and sister do), because at 3 he's the youngest, least experienced rider. They do look out for him, but given his attitude, it does take a parent to keep him safe.

These kinds of potholes can sure sap the life outta your tires.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bare Bottom Blues

Well, I'd LOVE to be here typing about how my dh and I have been at it so often, with such vigor, that I have a sore bottom! But alas, I am here to report that our basement flooded. The storm sewer pipes backed up, and the french drains flooded. UGLY. I called the Town to complain, and they (Pat?) submitted a claim to their insurance company! So maybe *hopefully* possibly some of the costs will be covered. When I find the camera, I'll be sure to post up some of the pictures (I did take a lot) of the damage. Poor little legos and thomas tanks, floating around with the bugs and pesticides. BLEH!

B has had a week of swim/dive lessons, now, and she's looking good! Aside from her gorgeous tan, and the amazing teeth with no braces or expanders, (see: before

and after!)

she is just looking AMAZING up there! She is diving (but not flipping yet) from the high and low dives, and making herself proud. Ori is also spending a lot of extra time in the drink, and getting great at jumping into the deep pool w/out being 'caught' before going in the water! This is a big step for him. I find that the best time is later in the afternoon, when it's HOT out, and he's not as shy of the cool water. Silly little bear is still so sensitive to the cold!

JAC is doing lots of hydrotherapy, walking and swimming in the pool too. He has WAY more range of motion, now, though he's not w/out some discomfort in and out of chairs and cars etc. He's using one crutch while he's out, but otherwise, just the pressure stocking to help keep his blood from pooling. It's nice to see his foot and leg looking normal - all the discoloration is gone, and the only real swelling visible now is actually on/just above his knee. Awesome! Eleven weeks post surgery today, and it's clear that by 4-5 mos he should have very close to full range of motion back. :D

Tonight we went to the Town Pool to do a 'dive in', which was our first! We saw Surf's Up, which of course we own, but it was REALLY fun to watch it with like 100 other locals. Everyone was sharing the vino, blankets, wet towels, and kids - it was super nice. K. is sleeping over w/Beca tonight (they're upstairs making friendship bracelets with the beads), 15 minutes till lights out (11pm). It's awesome to see how many nice friends she has now - it has taken some time, but I think she has really found a nice niche for herself. YAY!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mental hoisen tivy

Week two of Helderberg Workshop, more Hoisen Tivy - now it's on my hand (right) and torso. My back is itchy and so is my neck (it's already on the front of my neck), whether there's rash there or not it seems like there is, which is bad enough.

The camp itself is great fun.

I hope it's going to be worth missing Yoga on Thursday to see and bring home all of Beca's work. Seems like she's done some amazing stuff! I peeked in there today, and they had been working on statues of women...very cool stuff!

Meanwhile, Rachel - the camp counselor for the group I volunteer for - was sick last night, so she was less than enthusiastic today (kinda nice, actually - very type A personality there!)and we only did two hikes and two projects, one story and the rest was play time (and the kids were WAY more into the projects today, so they took longer making them). At any rate, the enjoyment factor is still high for all of us, the property is beautiful, with creeks and a wonderful little pond, and the counselors are really terrific.

Concert given to the camp by the roaming minstrals, with Joe, her future guitar teacher.

Up the Helderberg

Thinking of how to do tennis this summer w/B., but not sure how...

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Yet another entry lacking photos, but it's now or never! At 10:30pm, it's NOW!

We've had the pleasure of Loreena's company for the past 10 days - it's gone by so QUICKLY! We had some good times, some chill out pool days, amazing NYC days filled with sights, sounds, thunder and applause. Wicked was AMAZING, the girls really loved it. Seeing the waterfalls was great too! And you know what? I don't think I'd ever been on the Circle Line before! lol!

Yesterday we managed to get up to the Great Escape with Michou and Isa, which was a fun day as well - the weather was awesome, the girls spent most of their day at the water park, which had great slides and the kids enjoyed all the pools. Even Isa. ;-)

Tomorrow we pick up the girls from Catherine's party (which I am SURE will be a huge hit!), and hit the road for Montreal. Perhaps we can get a few tix or a good spot to see some Jazz, as it's Montreal Jazz Festival closing weekend. It's also the 400th birthday of Montreal! Big party weekend, is my guess. I hope our hotel rooms are fairly quiet...

Beca and Loreena had a great time together. Lots of cards and singing, hand slapping and sharing of all things tween. Lots of enjoying each other's company...and then it's over. All too quickly we are making our way North, back toward Trudeau Airport. What a great way for us to get back in touch with our Vancouver dreams, and with Loreena, a wonderful girl with a very big bright future.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

What I found.

What I found...

in Ori's bed this morning:
9 pr. of underwear (all his)
1 wooden car
1 pr of socks
4 stuffed toys
3 books
1 empty sippy cup
1 cd jewel case, no cd
1 damnit doll
1 jar of cream, lid on
1 bucket, empty
2 stamp pens, caps on
1 vhs cassette of the Muppets
1 non-working cell phone
1 little boy crammed in the corner.

at the pool:
2 pregnant ladies I know
1 family of 8 we love
1 lost 2yo boy
1 turquoise hair band that B thought was hers, but wasn't
1 bandaid floating in the pool
1 queen ant
1 mommy missing a 2yo boy
2 neighbors who were nice, and they usually aren't
1 other family po'd about the new pool pass system
1 very receptive aquatics director
1 other family with a crazy 3yo boy
2 friends from softball
3 friends from girl scouts
1 baby bird in it's nest (there may have been others, but only one was peeping when we saw it)

at the supermarket:
many hot families getting food early in the day (to spend the rest of the day in AC, is my guess)
2 drivers who think no one else is on the road today
1 man passionate about how many squirts his mochiato gets
many sympathetic people who like my kids.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Play

Saving a spot to upload photos of The Tempest, by the Woodland Hill Players. :D

Your Debut Album

Your Debut Album

1 - Go here and the first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 - Then go here, to Random quotations:
The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

If you want to do this again, you'll hit refresh to generate new quotes, because clicking the quotes link again will just give you the same quotes over and over again.

3 - Lastly, go to flickr's "explore the last seven days"
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

Put it all together, that's your debut album.

Band name = Out of Battery
Album name = All Over the Floor
Album art =

Originally uploaded by ronet.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Food balance

I've been trying to make sense of my addiction to sweets lately. I know that it is partly coming from losing a bunch of fat because I'm not eating meat anymore. And I know that there is more to being pre-diabetic than eating jelly beans. So I'm going to try to journal my eating for 1 week (Friday to Friday) and see what happens. Honestly, I think I eat pretty well, other than the night time smackeral.

So in my search to figure this out, this is the best guide I've come up with online to help me figure out what I should be eating (and to best give my kids a balanced diet).

It's technically vegan, which I'm not (because we eat eggs, and Beca eats dairy, to boot!), but it doesn't count meat as a protein, and it doesn't depend on dairy for calcium. This is what I was searching for.

Tonight I prepped a totally yumm stir fry w/Quorn bits, including a full head of kale, 1/4 head of cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic, and spices. EVERYONE munched it right down.

Tomorrow I'm going to make challah bread and a very basic Minestrone soup. I have tons to put in it, shells, peas, Great Northern beans, black beans, spinach, loads of tomatoes, and I'll have to run to the store and get some fruit for the cast party tomorrow night anyway, so I'll get some asparagus (really ticks me off that I have to drive 7 extra miles (20 min!) to get fresh organic asparagus, when it's ripe and ready but all the supermarkets carry is frozen organic (at 4.99 a bag!), or fresh conventional - and not even from local farms!).

Maybe this weekend I'll do another Shepard's pie, the last one was pretty well received. I think making them a bit smaller, tastier (not necessarily spicier though!), and with fresh bread will help us get more accustomed to them. Then on Sunday maybe something with the last of the veggies, so that on Monday I can justify going to the co-op for fresh veg!

Three more weeks until our CSA starts! I am really seriously looking forward to it!

Beca's The Tempest was wonderful today ... the 1/2 that I got to see! Hayley is Caliban in her performance, and she was so convincing that she scared Ori, so we left Act 3 Scene 3. Oh well - it leaves something to look forward to for tomorrow, since I get to go back again for the 2nd performance (and chaperon the cast party). The kids did a great job w/their lines (mostly), the costumes were totally great (pics tomorrow), and the props were excellent! Now if they'd just learn to slow down and enunciate...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Iiiiiii Love a Parade

Being in a parade is such an experience, different from watching one in some very powerful ways. Firstly, watching a parade is the stuff of spectator sport. Like watching ping pong, or tennis, your neck cranes this way or that, w/out ever really getting anything more than a subtle satisfaction that you got to see that amazing play, or save, or rebound. Watching the people in the parade who march, giggle, toss candy to children, and wave (yes, oh yes, lots of waving!), play instruments, give karate demonstrations, drive miniature cars, firetrucks, and soapbox derby cars is fun. But BEING in a parade, it's a whole nuther kind of butter!

Beca has always been in the parade. This year, when we got home, she said she'd rather watch next year (and get candy), 'cause everyone else always gets to be aspectator and get lots of candy. I told her we'd talk about it next year.

Meanwhile, Ori got to be in it for the first time this year!

He had a wonderful time eating candy, gave out bunches to both old and young, and sat in the wagon and waved waved waved. At one point he started to cry, and I picked him up and asked 'what's going on?' and he said "my arm is so tired!" "from waving?" "yes, mama. From too much waving!" So, with permission to ride and NOT wave, he was happily back in the wagon and chomping on his candy necklace.

Ah - here is the honor guard (seen from the back, unfortunately). Senator Breslin, our town supervisor, and a sprinkling of other dignitaries, as well as some local cops. Thanks for showing up, fellas! It was cool to have someone respect our walk (although the crowd appreciates it, I'm not sure the word respect would have crossed their minds.), wave us 'done' and just be there for all the kids to ogle and awe at.

And yes, note that gas is WAY more than the national average of $3.91. And has been for a while.

Ahhh, I love a little town pride!

These guys are my very fave. To me, they represent 250+ years of Americana. They are proud and strong (gotta be to wear those costumes in 80 degree weather!), but not boastful, loud w/out being noisome. I love fifes, just really love them. Can't play one, but love to listen (same goes for bagpipes).So to me, seeing some old guys drive little cars, listening to the fife, tossing around some candy, and lots of waving is a successful parade. Memorializtion? Not much, but I respect the pomp and appreciate the circumstance.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

May MBOY and maybe a little more...

May is nearly over, and I FINALLY got around to dyeing my BFL yarn (from that coop so many moons ago) that I have wanted to do ooooh, probably since I got the darned stuff! It's beautiful yarn, very soft and a nice tight twist, singly ply but thickly stranded. Mmmmm. So I broke out the kool-ade and attempted to do a two tone UN pink red, but no luck. Perhaps strawberry gives a better red? I stuck this stuff in the cherry for over 4 hours! Here's the stew:

And here's a hank drying (note: after stewing for 4+ hours, the color was NOT what I was intending, but most of the beautiful buttery yellow is now gone...sigh):

And HERE'S the teaser pic of the ball!

Overall, I'm happy with the yarn, I do wish it had turned out a much deeper red - but perhaps the recipient wanted a lighter color? Or the Universe wanted her to have a lighter color? I had a lot of fun picking little goodies to go inside, some showing more obviously than others. At the core of this ball is something veeeery special, locally made, and totally delish. :D

So having gotten all that together (sans the Spring ed. of Interweave Knits which has slipped from my grasp - so tomorrow (after the parade) I shall endeavor to find it), I was feeling completely entitled to opening MY incoming Mboy! I am SO glad I did! Aside from the new sock dpn's, the foot balm, the lip and knitter's balms, the mini soap, and the awesome little card, I got a knitting bag (a small, wrist bag hand made to tote a single skein/ball of yarn around, instead of the whole kit and kaboodle I have trouble with!) and a ball of the MOST gorgeous Blckberry Ridge Mill yarn. I am SO excited to do something wonderful with it! My FAVORITE colors!!! Thank you ~Megan~!!

And as usual, a gratutious pic of at least one of my babies.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Newest bestest food

Tonight I made a delicious pot pie - truly awesome!


7 medium gold potatoes, boiled to tender, smashed, a couple tablespoons of Earth's Best
1 large or 2 medium leeks
2 normal carrots
1/2 small pkg petite peas
nice big bunch of fresh or frozen cut spinach (I think I used about 3.5 big handfulls, stems removed).
diced or crushed garlic (2 cloves or more to desired taste)
1 medium onion diced

1 tsp. garam marsala paste
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp tumeric
couple good dashes of vegan Worcestershire sauce
pinch of salt
pinch of good ground pepper

2 pie crusts (mine were store bought vegan)

Get a pie plate or large shallow bowl and line it with one of the pie crusts. Brush with Earth's Best.

Saute the onion, leek, garlic, spinach, and spices together - adding them together in that order about 2-3 min apart. Dash in the Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.

Add this saute to the potatoes, and mix well. Add in the cooked carrots and frozen peas. Mix a few times so that it's well mixed, but not smashing apart the carrots or peas. Add to pie crust. Brush again with Earth's Best, and add top pie crust. Cut little holes in the pie right in the middle, so you are impressed with how it looks. Bake at 350 for about 45 min. We ate ours plain, but you could do a side of beans, or have it with a nice salad or soup.

Just wanted to add here that after eating one serving of this yummy pie, and having a glass of chocolate rice milk with dinner, I had 3 thin mint cookies and was totally fine. 2 glasses of water later, and I'm ready for bed! It's really getting easier...