July 31, 2008

P.A.T.H.E.T.I.C.

Seriously. What am I going to do when Jerry grows up and leaves home if I can't even manage 12 days? He's been gone for 12 days now and yesterday I was willing that phone to ring, just waiting for the words, "I want to come home" to sail in through the earpiece. My bags were packed and ready. I could have been out the door in an instant. Okay, my bags weren't packed. But I could have been out the door in an instant.

Last night I laid awake wondering if I might be able to get a job at camp (cow milking? pig deodorizing?) for this last week. I had it all planned. They wouldn't need to give me a room. I could just pitch a tent somewhere on the ranch and I'd stay out of Jerry's way and everything but at least I'd be there. If he needed me he could come to my tent for a quick hug. He could talk to me about the girl that's been annoying him while I milk the cow. He could walk in front of me with his nose plugged while I carry the pig slop down the hill trying not to let it spill on my new farming shoes (because I'd have to buy a new pair of shoes for the job, right?). He'd still sleep on his platform with the boys but he'd know that somewhere out there, under the third Oak to the right, perhaps, his mother was stoking her tiny campfire, reading some Jane Austen, and waiting to be needed. See what I mean? Pathetic. What is wrong with me?!

I should have had more children. Or I should have planned my three weeks in advance so I wouldn't have so much free time for thinking about things and missing people. Speaking of time for thinking, I can't find that Howard Zinn audio book now. That's what happens when you're me. You spend a week cleaning and organizing your house so you know where to find things and then you can't find the one thing you want.

But I shouldn't dwell on the missing or the misplaced. There are lots of good things happening:
  1. I got nominated for Allesandra's Homeschool Blog award. Woohoo!! Go to her blog and vote for me! In the meantime I'll try to think up a catchy slogan. Something like, "Vote Colleen! She's keen!" or "New Unschooler! It sure rule-ers!" No?
  2. Two students came to look at our room for rent this week and they were both really nice. (The one that seemed more interested does have one slight drawback--she has a chihuahua. Puh-lease. How can you even call those things dogs?)
  3. I'm helping a friend with her son's birthday party today. It's a big carnival party and should be loads of fun.
  4. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with one of the mom's from Jerry's old school. She's someone I really like who's husband also works in the film business, so we can commiserate on life as married mothers who happen to be single much of the time.
  5. A bunch of friends from our Grateful Dead days are coming over for a BBQ on Saturday.
  6. Our house did not fall down in the earthquake.
  7. Our deck is coming along nicely and even though it's way smaller than we wanted it to be I think it's going to be lovely.
  8. I put shelves in one of the closets downstairs and now all of our blankets are in one place so I will always be able to find them when I need them (unlike the Howard Zinn audio book).
  9. I'm leaving to pick Jerry up exactly one week from today.
I feel a little better now.

July 29, 2008

Whole Lotta Cleaning Goin' On

Warren and I cleaned out the garage over the weekend. It was so bad we couldn't get from one end to the other when we started. In fact we could only make it about five feet in--just past the end of the dryer. But now there's a nice clear pathway from door to door. In the process of cleaning we took a trip in the "way back machine," as Warren says. We found lots of old clothes, my cheerleading uniforms, my old belly dancing costume from when I used to dance at a Morrocan restaurant on weekends (pre-Jerry). I read through some of my childhood diaries (hilarious) some of the poems I wrote in high school (even more hilarious) and the newspaper clipping that quoted me as saying "I wish I could do flip flops around the gym" after winning a songleading competition my senior year of high school (still embarrassing). We found our wedding ceremony, Jerry's first pair of shoes and my grandma's china tea cups. Oh, and I found all the souvenir wine and champagne glasses from the proms I attended in high school! Now that's funny. Why did we get wine glasses in high school? I briefly entertained the idea of starting and 80's prom glass collection but decided against it. The glasses, all inscribed with phrases like "Time will reveal," "One more night" and "On the edge of a dream," are sitting on my kitchen counter while I decide their fate. To keep or not to keep? That is always the question when cleaning out the garage. 

Here's a picture of Jerry with the other boys on his platform. I pulled it from the camp website. Jerry is 5th from the left, bottom row. He comes home in 12 days!


July 25, 2008

Why Teach History?

The silence of our empty house has left me with lots of free brain time. You know, how your brain just goes and goes and thinks and discovers and opines and argues when there's silence? Your brains do that too right? With all this free brain time on my hands (in my head?) I decided to get some audio books to keep my thoughts company. Sure, I could listen to music but sometimes--most times, actually--I'm too hungry for information to be satisfied with music. I love music--don't get me wrong--it's what got our little family going in the first place (Warren and I met at a Grateful Dead show), but more and more lately I prefer information to melodies.

In an effort to provide some brain food for my silent, child-free days I went to the library and checked out some audio books. I got Beloved by Toni Morrison (because I haven't read it yet), Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Suzanne Clarke (because I have read it and loved it and am dying to know how they incorporate the footnotes into the audio book) and A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. I was listening to the later this morning as I cleaned off our kitchen counter (it's spotlessly clean and free of papers and books and legos and playing cards and puzzle pieces and other junk as I type this).

Listening to this book made me wonder, Why do we teach history? What's our purpose in telling future generations the stories of the past? The obvious answer is to keep them from making the same mistakes. I mean, you hear people, even teachers, say that all the time right? However, history, as it's taught in most public schools (unless there have been big changes since I was in high school) fails miserably at this task.

For example, I didn't know that before the Vietnam War it was America who set up the government in South Vietnam (after France bailed) in an effort to keep the popular communist leader Ho Chi Minh from establishing a united communist country--regardless of the fact that he was extremely popular. I didn't know that when the people of Vietnam turned on the South Vietnamese (puppet) leader and he called the White House asking for help they told him it was 4:30 a.m. and they really couldn't do anything to help and never bothered to call back. I didn't know that soldiers who spoke out against the war were court marshaled and jailed. I knew protesters were attacked and sometimes killed. And I did know that people were put in jail, but I never imagined they were kept there for years on end. I had a vague notion that we were fighting a war that wasn't ours to fight but I didn't really know the specifics. Now, I know what I learned today is just one small sampling of what went on. I don't know the whole story, even now--still I was surprised by my ignorance. Okay, not surprised, exactly. I know my knowledge of history (even though it's one of my favorite subjects) is pretty dismal. But I did think I might have been clued in to these fact at some point before my 40th birthday (much too rapidly) approached.

One could argue that I've been in charge of my own education long enough that I should know these things right? Oh, but wait. We're not really taught to believe we're in charge of our education are we? The state, the teachers, the board of education are in charge right? Once we graduate our "education" is over. Hmm, that sounds like a problem. It certainly doesn't sound like a smart way to raise an informed populace. In fact, it almost sounds like the exact opposite of an informed populace.

That's kinda scary. So that's what I'm spending my brain time on. History. Thinking about it. Learning about it. Figuring out how best to share it.

July 24, 2008

Home Again

I'm home! (I feel like I'm writing that a lot on this blog.) The train ride was fabulous. It provided a much needed reminder of how much I love California. New Zealand is beautiful, sure, but California can give it a run for it's money (or sheep) any day. And it's home. The scenery along the ride, even when we weren't cruising along the coast, was beautiful. I saw every shade of gold, fields of what looked like pansies in purple and white, artichoke and cabbage and corn fields, cows, horses, wild turkeys, hawks, vultures. I swear I even saw a pig running across a field (though it could have been a piggish dog). I dined with a couple from New Zealand who were just finishing a ten-week tour of Europe, Canada and the US. I had lunch with an 88-year-old woman en route to a baby shower for her third great-great grandson. I read and read some more. I called camp to check on Jerry (he's fine). And when we passed Simi Valley and I could finally see the familiar lines of the Santa Monica Mountains against the darkening sky I breathed a sigh, not so much of relief but, of contentment.

And now I'm here. Alone. And I can't decide what I should do. I thought I might sleep in but the cat, the dog and the men who arrived in our backyard at 6:22 a.m. to pour concrete had other ideas. They all thought I should be awake. So here I am at the kitchen table. I've had some cereal and tea. I tried calling my sister in Ireland on Skype (it's free!) but she didn't answer. What will I do when I'm done with this post?! I can do anything I want! Oh, the pressure! Do I jump right in with work stuff? I don't think I'm ready to tackle my office yet and Warren is going to help me with the garage this weekend so maybe not. Do I work on the novel that has been sadly neglected since we started homeschooling? Do I go to the movies? Get a massage? Go grocery shopping? Catch up on blogs? Balance my checkbook? Take the dog to the beach for a nice long walk? Ack! Too many choices!!

Before doing anything I'm going to post some pictures of Jerry's camp (see how I keep going back to Jerry?).

This is a view of the main part of camp where the eating and crafty-type activities take place. Even the mountains in the background are part of camp. Once a week they do an overnighter in the mountains. Jerry hates the overnighters. You may remember from our time in New Zealand--he's "not a walker."
I took this early in the morning when the mist was still clinging to the water.
Here's one of the baby calves. I milked my first cow last year at family camp. It was thrilling. Seriously. Ranch life is very exotic for a city girl.
This is where the horses live.
And this is one of the platforms where the kids sleep.
Pretty nice, huh? I took all those pictures last year at family camp but everything still looks the same. I have a feeling it's looked the same for the last 80 years or so. No point in changing perfection.

Well, time to get busy, I guess. But what should I do!?!

July 22, 2008

Missing My Boy

It's 7:30 a.m. and I've snuck into my friends office on tip-toe so as not to wake her or her adorable two-year-old. I don't have anything earth shattering to write about. I just wanted to let you all know Jerry has arrived safely at camp and I haven't heard a peep--no phone calls begging me to come pick him up--so far so good. He was a little worried when Warren and I left camp. He'd said a couple times that he felt conflicted about staying, after all. But since we arrived on Saturday and spent one night in a cabin together and we had the morning to hang around camp and help him get settled into his platform and meet his counsellors, I think he was much more comfortable than he had been last year. He and Jackson have beds right beside each other and, luckily, Jerry's favorite counsellor from last year is one of his counsellors again this year.

Oh, you know how people (my grandmother in particular) always say it's the parent's fault if the child is a picky eater? That if the parents would just not make special meals for the kid, eventually he'll eat because "he's not going to starve himself?" Not true. Last year at camp Jerry ended up in the infirmary after three days because he hadn't eaten much of anything because the meals they served at camp weren't one of the handful of meals he eats at home. After those first three days the cook just started keeping pasta and rice ready-made for Jerry to eat while the other kids ate whatever she had prepared (so much for our hopes that camp might broaden his palate!). This year I was more prepared. I left some beans and cheese in the kitchen, so he'll have some protein in his diet. I'm hoping that will help.

So it's been two nights now. I haven't slept well for either of them and even though I'm having a great time visiting my friend (I'm off to see different friend today), every other thought that pops into my head is about Jerry. I'm constantly having to stop myself from talking about him because well, it would probably be pretty annoying if all I did was talk about my kid. On my blog, however, I can talk about him all I want and if it gets annoying you are just one click away from something more interesting. So that's the real reason I'm up before everyone else and sitting at the computer. I just want to talk about Jerry. I miss him. I love him. I really want him to have a good time at camp.

Last year the first week and a half were terribly hard for him. He was homesick, of course, and the food issue just made things worse. I very nearly went up there to pick him up after the first week but the camp director assured me that 80% of the time he was having a blast. So he stuck it out and eventually when I called to check-in on him he was too busy to talk. I'm hoping the extra food and the fact that he's been there before will make a big difference for him this year--kinda help him to bypass that first week of homesickness (I remember it well from my own days at camp). Still, I'm going to call the camp today to see how he's doing, maybe talk to his counselor to find out how the eating has been going.

I miss him.

July 18, 2008

Five-Day Plan

We're taking Jerry to summer camp tomorrow so you may not hear from me for a few days (the horror!). Here's the plan: the three of us fly up to Sacramento tomorrow morning, borrow my mom and dad's car, and drive to camp (even though his session doesn't officially start until the following day). We'll all spend the night at camp on Saturday night (so Warren will get to see it--yippee!) and on Sunday Warren and I will return to Sac (but since Jerry doesn't officially start camp until after lunch we'll probably take advantage of the morning to go for a swim in the river--I can't wait!). Warren flies home that evening, I spend Sunday night at my mom's, Monday night at my friend Jill's, Tuesday night at my friend Zefra's and on Wednesday I hit the rails. Yes, I'm taking the train home! My ticket was only $43!! Sure, it's going to take twice as long as it would to drive, but I'll be blissfully alone with a book (or two), an iPod, and a lovely view as we speed (or inch) along the California Coast. Wahoo!

On the unschooling front we've had a great week. Jerry and I have been making personal crests (we're going to make a family one, too), building with Kaplas, listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (poor Harry--it's a tough year for him), putting together a big puzzle, baking, and generally enjoying our time together. Oh, and homeschool park day yesterday was great. It's always a struggle to get Jerry to go, but early in the week one of the boys had sent out an e-mail suggesting people bring water guns (it's been sooooo hot here lately!) and that helped a lot. We picked up Jackson on the way, stopped and bought a couple water guns and went to the park. I hardly saw the boys once we arrived. By the time we left, 2 1/2 hours later, they were soaked to the bone and thoroughly happy about it.

It was a good day for me too. I usually glom onto the same person every week (sorry Lisa!), which means I don't meet very many people. But my friend left early yesterday so I was forced to branch out and ended up having a great discussion with four or five other mom's about why we homeschool (because one of the mom's was new to homeschooling). It was really nice.

Now we just have a couple last minute items to buy for camp, Warren and I need to pack our stuff, and we'll be all ready to help Jerry begin his sleep-away camp adventure!

One Thing I Love About Homeschooling

Jerry made a mix tape yesterday. Okay, it was a mix CD, but that just doesn't sound right. Mix tape on CD, maybe? Anyway, here's the play list:

Ninja - 7 Seconds of Love

Love Me Like You Used To - 7 Seconds of Love
EBay - "Weird Al" Yankovich
Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) - Dead or Alive
Somebody Told Me - The Killers
When You Were Young - The Killers
Rockstar - Nickelback
S.O.S. - Jonas Brothers
Walk This Way - Aerosmith
Electric Funeral - Black Sabbath
Popcorn - Crazy Frog
U Can't Touch This (Radio Mix) - Crazy Frog
Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols
Two Way Dreamtime - Directions In Groove
Through The Fire And Flames - Dragonforce
Roadrunner - Jonathan Richman
Happy Outro/End Credits - Klaus Badelt (from the score of the first Pirates of the Caribbean)
Mai Ai Hee (Dragostea Din Tei) O-ZONE (This video is really funny too. Maybe not for little ones though.)
How We Roll - Alvin and the Chipmunks (Download the music video for free on iTunes--Warren edited it!)
Witch Doctor - Alvin and the Chipmunks

Black Sabbath and Crazy Frog? Klaus Badelt and Weird Al? You betcha! Because he's not surrounded by disapproving "friends" at school telling him that if he listens to Nickelback he can't listen to Alvin and the Chipmunks, too. Gotta love a kid who can bop around to Popcorn one minute and lose himself in the sounds of a full orchestra in the next. I love homeschooling!

Thanks to the magic of YouTube (I love YouTube, too.) you can listen to most of these songs and watch the music videos by clicking on the above links! I highly recommend Mai Ai Hee. It's guaranteed to make you smile.

July 17, 2008

Baby Steps & Driving 55

I performed my first routine in circus class yesterday. It was a beginner version of what everyone else was doing. The other students climbed up the silks (those things you saw me holding onto a couple weeks ago in my pathetic attempt to get upside down) and did their routines from high in the air, but I stayed closer to the ground. And the teacher had to stand beside me and tell me what was next because everyone else had learned the routine when we were in New Zealand and I'd only just learned it yesterday. I did it, though. Yeah for me! When Jerry gets back from camp I'll have him come in again and tape me so you can see it for yourself. Hopefully by then it won't be quite as funny as it is now.

So I'm taking baby steps at circus class and slightly bigger steps at living a more sustainable life. I can't remember if I ever wrote about it here but after we got back from New Zealand I made a commitment to myself to use the car less frequently. I figured if I could walk to the grocery store in NZ I could do it at home. So I've been really good about not using the car to go to the store unless I stop by there when I'm on my way home from someplace else. And I've stopped using plastic or paper bags altogether. I've also stopped using the clothes dryer. That's something that seemed really difficult when I thought about doing it but, in practice, is a breeze. I still use it on occasion but only to soften up things that are too crusty after air drying (like towels and blue jeans). Since I can't hang the laundry in the backyard and I don't like hanging it in the front where people might walk off with it, I've been putting it in our living room, which means the living room often looks like this:But I don't mind. My next step is to start driving 55 on the freeway. So far this is the most difficult change for me. I simply cannot bring myself to slow down. It's soooo haaaaarrrd. I thought about getting a "iDrive 55" bumper sticker--hoping that maybe the fear of being such an obvious hypocrite would slow me down--but I don't think I'm ready. Baby steps. I'm going to try 65 for now.

July 15, 2008

What I Learned Yesterday

Yesterday I mopped the living room floor. I'm telling you this because I have wood floors and I usually (okay, occasionally) sweep or vacuum them, but rarely do I mop. I kind of figured sweeping or vacuuming was enough. I'm here to tell you it is not enough. I am not exaggerating when I say that the water coming off my mop was still muddy brown on the fifth, sixth, sometimes seventh rinse. I would have cried if it hadn't been so, well, amazing. I mean, who knew? You couldn't see the dirt at all--it just blended right in with our well-worn/rustic/shabby chic/shabby/dilapidated (choose your own adjective) floor. I actually had to stop mopping before the water ran clean because my mop-ringing hand just couldn't take it anymore. So that was one thing I learned yesterday: wood floors must be mopped--frequently. I just thought you might like to know....

The other thing I learned is this: a feijoa in New Zealand is a guava in America. When we were in New Zealand I discovered the feijoa.It's a little green, yummy fruit that tastes fabulous in smoothies. I thought I had never seen one in America. But I was at the grocery store yesterday and there they were, staring up at me from a little basket in the fruit and vegie section. I picked one up and sure enough there was a sticker on the side that read "feijoa" but I couldn't find the price. So I asked the grocer, "How much are the feojoas?" "You mean the guava?" he said. It was a guava! Which tells me that prior to my visit to the grocery store yesterday I wouldn't have known a guava if it hit me in the face. But I thought I knew. I mean, I would have guessed it was like a mango or a papaya or something. Anyway, my point is, I think there are probably a lot of guavas in my life. Not guavas as in fruit, but guavas as in something I think I know but don't. So from here on out I plan to look for the guavas in my life and find out exactly what they are, how they operate, and where they came from. 

I'm going to start with wind. What exactly is it? What are we feeling when the wind sweeps across our skin? Atoms? And where does the wind come from? I've always assumed it came from the ocean but is that true? And if it is true how does the ocean manufacture it? We think we know wind, right? But I can't answer any of these questions. So as soon as I finish writing my monthly newspaper column (which is due today and which I am currently avoiding by writing on my blog) I'm going to look for answers. Does anyone know where I should start?

And what has Jerry learned? In addition to learning about what makes up the insides of a computer, that the chupacabra is probably a dog--not an alien, how to do a nose grind on line rider, and probably a few other things, Jerry has learned how to sleep though the sound of a jackhammer pounding away just outside his bedroom window. Yes, the building of our deck has brought jackhammers into our lives. It has also brought the root of our pine tree into the light of day. It took four days to get the behemoth above ground.It's pretty cool, though. We've decided to keep it as a garden sculpture.
Here's a picture of Charlie (top) and Ravenpaw surveying the destruction--I mean construction-- from the branches of our fig tree. 
And here's Charlie looking very photogenic.
That's about it. Now on to writing that column!

July 14, 2008

Beach Days, Computer Fairs & Summer Camp

It's been a busy five days since my last post. On Thursday Jerry and I met some friends we'd made at the Life is Good Conference down at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point--it was a half way point since they live in San Diego and we're in L.A. The kids had a great time boogie boarding, making sand castles, and playing the DS. We stopped at Starbucks after leaving the beach to prolong our visit.

On our way home Jerry and I stopped by my grandparent's house. It was a quick visit but we hadn't seen them since before we left for New Zealand. At that time my grandma had just gone into the hospital with pneumonia. I'd thought about putting off our trip but Grandma promised she'd still be here when we got back and somehow that made me feel much better about going. You might think she shouldn't make such promises because a person can't control when they'll die, but if you knew my grandma you'd think otherwise. She's not going until she's good and ready. No matter how sick she gets, regardless of the physical difficulties life throws her way, her fierce determination to live trumps them all. Go Grandma!
Yesterday was the day Jerry has been waiting for since we got the idea to build a PC: The Computer Fair. His friend Jackson came over early in the morning and Warren, Jerry, myself and Jackson headed out to the Pomona County Fairgrounds for what promised to be a computer parts mecca.
In spite of the terrific prices we managed to drop a huge amount of money on components. We ended up going with an Intel Core 2 Duo system and followed the recommendations for the value gaming system at SharkyExtreme.com. I made one decision that I'm not so sure about, though. We couldn't find the recommended motherboard so we went with one the sales guy recommended that's almost exactly the same but made by Asus instead of Gigabyte. I'm not sure why I bought it, to be honest. For everything else I stuck, religiously, to our shopping list (we made a stop at Fry's to get the case and I'm ordering one last part--the CD/DVD drive--online). But for the motherboard--one of the most important components!--I bought a different one. Dumb, huh?

After we left the fair (we were almost back to the freeway) I asked Warren to turn around so I could go back and ask the guy to check and be sure the specs were the same. He did and they were pretty close so I kept it, figuring I can always return it if we decide to go with another one. The one thing we got that Jerry can actually use before we get the PC built is an amazing sound system. It was only 55 bucks (with a subwoofer and surround sound) and we love the way it sounds! All in all it was just a really fun day.
Another boon to come out of the day was Jerry's decision that he wants to go to summer camp. He and Jackson went to sleep-away camp together last year for three weeks and they both wanted to go again this year. It's mind-blowingly expensive but it's such an amazing place we were happy to fork over a limb or two to pay his tuition. And then a couple months ago Jerry said he didn't want to go. But they don't do refunds. They could credit the money toward Family Camp or next year's kid's camp but there was no way that money was going back into our checking account. Needless to say this caused some strife. We definitely didn't want to send Jerry against his will, but we didn't want three thousand dollars to go to waste either. And I felt sure that if Jackson went and Jerry didn't, Jerry would regret it in the end.

Yes, we could have used the money for Family Camp but Warren can't attend since he's working and if the whole family doesn't go then it's just not the same. Luckily, on our way to the computer fair we spent some time reminiscing about Jerry and Jack's experience last year and by the time we arrived Jerry was looking forward to going again. I can't tell you what a relief it was! He had said before that he would go to make me happy but I was really uncomfortable with that. I wanted him to go, but I didn't want him to do it for me. So after talking with Jackson and being reminded of the fun and the friends, he says he's going because he wants to go. Not for me. Phew!

So that means that this week will be spent in a mad rush to get him ready to go. Saturday the three of us will fly up to Sacramento (yet again!) and drive him from there, to camp. Then he'll spend three weeks on the most idyllic ranch you can imagine. Meanwhile, I'll be visiting with friends, reading loads of books, organizing my office (yes, you will see before and after pictures!), going to the movies, spending time with Warren, cleaning out the garage, taking long walks on the beach, going to a writing conference, and just generally enjoying a rare few weeks of total freedom. I'll miss Jerry, of course, so I'll also spend time writing him letters (though not as many as last year--he said every day was a bit much) and sending care packages, and checking the camp website for photos of his smiling face. My boy is growing up!


July 9, 2008

Another Poem

Not much happening today so I thought I'd share the Mary Oliver poem that's been rolling around inside my head for the last couple weeks.

Black Oaks

Okay, not one can write a symphony, or a dictionary,

or even a letter to an old friend, full of remembrance
and comfort.

Not one can manage a single sound though the blue jays
carp and whistle all day in the branches, without
the push of the wind.

But to tell the truth after a while I'm pale with longing
for their thick bodies ruckled with lichen

and you can't keep me from the woods, from the tonnage

of their shoulders, and their shining green hair.

Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a
little sunshine, a little rain.

Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from
one boot to another -- why don't you get going?

For there I am, in the mossy shadows, under the trees.

And to tell the truth I don't want to let go of the wrists
of idleness, I don't want to sell my life for money,

I don't even want to come in out of the rain.

July 8, 2008

Long Holiday

Sorry for the prolonged silence. We had an extra long holiday weekend. It started on Thursday with the Anime Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Here's a photo of Jerry and his best friend, Jackson, outside the Expo.The highlight of the event, for me, was looking at all the costumes.
Remember this guy? He's gotten a bit taller over the years.
After the Expo Jerry hung out with Jackson while Warren and I had dinner with our neighbor in honor of her husband and our friend, Michael. He died of cancer two years ago, July 3. So the 4th of July will always bring a some sadness our way. It was really lovely to share good food, good wine (two of his favorite things) and and our memories. I couldn't help thinking it would have been better if he'd been there to enjoy it with us, though. This is a picture of Michael's photo on the Day of the Dead altar at Jerry's old school. We stayed home on the 4th--had a BBQ with our neighbor, then spent the rest of the day inspecting the upheaval in our backyard and playing ping pong (once it cooled off enough to go out). That tree stump beside Jerry is the root of the tree we had removed. It turns out that this tree has an unusually large root system, which translates to higher building costs--of course.
Here's charlie, our six-fingered cat, enjoying the day.
Saturday morning we flew up to Sacramento for my parent's annual 4th of July bash, spent a few days hanging out with family and some friends we hadn't seen in a while, and now we're back. My book club meets at my house tonight, which means I have lots of cleaning to do so I'd better get off the computer and get busy!

July 2, 2008

You Asked For It

Yes, after moaning about the humiliation of being in circus class with a room full of people watching my sorry attempts at um, circus arts (?), I am sharing my talents-- "talents" hardly seems appropriate, though; let's go with perseverance--I am sharing my perseverance with the world. Or the very small portion of the world that stumbles upon my blog. Don't laugh too hard.

video

July 1, 2008

The Amazingness Of Freecycle

You may remember the sad day, one of our last in New Zealand, when Jerry lost his DS Lite and all his games. It had been his constant companion throughout our trip and a life saver for both of us on museum visits. When we got back home he started to play his old DS with the two games that had been left here. Back in NZ I'd told him we'd work toward rebuilding his stash of games but even used games aren't cheap so we haven't made much (okay, any) progress. Over the weekend I put an ad on freecycle. I didn't ask for DS Lite because I figured no one would want to give one of those away, and even though Jerry prefers the DS Lite to his old DS it just didn't seem right to ask for one. I just listed all the games he'd lost and hoped for the best.

And guess what!?

Within hours of posting on freecycle I got an e-mail that said, "I have a DS Lite for you." Can you believe it!? So we picked it up today. And there was a Mario Kart game with it. Jerry is one very happy boy.


As we drove toward home Jerry clutched his new DS Lite and said, "I'm so happy to have a DS Lite again. That's the amazingness of Freecycle!"