Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One + One

Conversation snippet from yesterday Afternoon:

George the Younger:  If I had a curfew what time would it be?

Me:  I have no idea, but it will surely be earlier than you will ever like.

Conversatoion snippet from last evening.....

George the Younger:  Tomas and I are going out shopping on black friday.  We're going to buy a mini fridge.

George the Elder:  What would you do with a mini fridge?

George the Younger:  Isn't the question really, what couldn't you do with a mini fridge????

In isolation - simple questions from a 15 year old boy taking place hours apart.  Put them together and I have to wonder.   Maybe he's craftier than we think.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Medium to Fair

This morning I'm sitting in Starbucks nursing a steaming hot grande cup of awake when I am approached by a dapper looking young early-thiry-ish man in a suit.  He has just rushed in the door, but does not head towards the counter to place his order.  Instead, he sits down directly across from me on the edge of the nice large cushy leather chair, leans forward towards me conspiratorially and says...

"I was wondering whether you had a little face powder that I could borrow?  I ran out of the house this morning and forgot to put mine on."  (this is said while he is stroking his face in a manner, which I suspect is supposed to have me notice his uneven skin tone)

The way I see it,  shouldn't every meterosexual male who is worth his salt carry his own personal pressed powder compact?  Sadly, I had none to lend.  Not a face powder kind of girl (which he would have surely noticed if he had take a second to look at the uneven skin tone of the person that he was addressing).

And, for what it's worth, we didn't even have the same skin tone.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On a different Page?

I've been noodling lately that perhaps George the Elder and I ought to start watching our waistlines. You know drop those 10 pounds or so that have stealthily crept up on both of us over the last several years. Was imagining that we should start a Mediterranean Diet or some such nonsense.  But over the last two weeks, it's become obvious that perhaps George the Elder and I might not be on the same page.

Behold.  The last three cookbooks that George the Elder has added to his vast cookbook collection....

Donuts.  Milkshakes.  Ice Cream.  Nuff said.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Two Teens and the Art of Thank You

I'm certain that I've mentioned this before, but George the Younger and Henry share a birthday.  No, they're not twins.  No, they are also not biological siblings (unless by some incredibly weird coincidence their birth mother moved countries and changed nationalities between one birth and the next - doubtful).  No, we do not celebrate both birthdays on one day.  Yes, we do a birthday-palooza kind of thing that spans across two days.

Day One = celebrator #1 selection of birthday dinner and dessert.
Day Two = celebrator #2 selection of birthday dinner and dessert.

All presents are opened on Day one.  It would be cruel to have to wait 24 hours for your presents just because it wasn't "your year" to eat first.

This year we decorated mightily and left those streamers and balloons up for the whole two days.  For those of you who know me - - this was torture!  But, a shout out to my favorite place to buy stuff, "Target!"  Adored the little "party set" with streamers, balloons, and banners!  All for some ridiculously low price of "who-cares!"  You can leave out the sparkly confetti next time.  Confetti is only used by stupid people who want to clean it up out of their homes for the next decade.  I'm just saying.

This year means we transition forever in to no-longer-having-a-less-than-teenager-in-our-lives.  Henry 13.  George 15.  Next birthday = potential driver's license.  Time is marching on.  and on.  and on. 

Henry is Celebrator #1 in 2011.
Dinner:  Porcupine Balls (not from real porcupines)
Dessert:  Creme Brulee

George the Younger is Celebrator #2 in 2011
Dinner:  Shannon's Island Pork Tenderloin
Dessert:  Classic Baskin Robins Mint Chip Ice Cream Cake

Just a couple of observations re:  dinner and dessert selections;

  • Henry chose Creme Brulee this year.  He is getting to be the King of unique birthday dessert choices.  Last year we did Boston Cream Pie.  This year we had to buy a blow torch.  Having now used a blow torch, I believe that there should be an entire cookbook dedicated to cooking things with small hand held fire makers.
  • Creme Brulee is tasty.  It has a couple of problems when used as birthday cake.  One: inserting candle into recently bronzed sugar is impossible.  Two:  Do not try to light candles with blow torch (even though it's going to be right on the counter calling to you).  Candle Wax burns much more quickly than sugar.  A lot more quickly.  Puddle of blue wax on top of beautifully browned sugar is not aesthetically appealing.
  • George the Elder was personally insulted that George the Younger chose one of Shannon's recipes for his birthday dinner.  Historically, George the Younger selects some pasta dish made by Dad.  George the Elder took his decision personally.  Dad did, however, choke down the delicious Island Pork Tenderloin while nursing his broken heart.

Shannon came to celebrate again this year.  HURRAH!

I try to make the boys write thank you notes for the gifts that they receive from others.  They've been writing these a few years now.  First we started them off with the fill-in-the-blank variety.  You know:

Dear ____,  Thank you for the _____.  Love, _______

They used a template that looked just like this and had to write them out as soon as they could manage it - - 5ish, I think.

This morphed in to a more sophisticated template of:

Dear ___,  Thank you for the _____.  It was the perfect gift because _____.  Love, ______

These days, there is no template.  They are simply reminded over and over and over and over again to write their notes.  Saturday, I finally got out their notes out of the boxes, placed them on the dining table and announced that NO-one was doing NO-thing the entire weekend unless the damned notes were done.  Amazingly, faced with missing fun-with-friends or just sitting on the couch watching Mythbusters - - the notes were written!  Huzzah!!!

[SPOILER ALERT:  If you are my mother, my sister, my father-inlaw or my daughter and do not want to read your thank-you note PRIOR to receiving it in the mail in two short days...STOP READING RIGHT HERE.  If you are not my mother, my sister, my father-in-law or my daughter, please continue reading to get a glimpse of what years of thank you note writing has morphed in to...]

Remember, the template is:  Dear X.  Thank you for X.  Insert personal sentence regarding the gift or that person.  Love, X....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hello Sailor.

And, nothing says "old lady" quite like no lips at all....

My grandma used to always say that putting on a little lipstick would make everything better.  I thought she was speaking metaphorically.  A little lipstick = a happy day.  Turns out that she was actually simply articulating an indisputable truth of the aged.  A little lipstick = bona fide visual lips.  Nuggets of wisdom by older women are usually a little tricky that way. 

Perhaps the metaphor aspect was just an illusion. A happy coincidence to lure you dreamily in the harsh reality that lies deeeper and darker.  I mean at any age a women could have a happy day without lipstick.  And they could have a happy day with lipstick.  It's just that as you get older, without the lipstick other people have no way to know you are happy because they are entirely unable to discern whether you are smiling or not.  They cannot see your lips. Because they have merged seamlessly into your face.  So, OF COURSE wearing lipstick makes everything better.  Or something like that.  Whatever.  What I'm getting at here is that I have no lips and I feel like my Grandmother didn't exactly spit it out that without lipstick you have no friggin lips at a certain age.

Of course, "I have no lips" is simply figurative.  I still have some lips.  If I had no lips I would have nothing to apply lipstick upon.  What I have are reduced-mostly-invisible-to-the-naked-eye-50+-year-old-lips.  The kind my grandmother doubtlessly had when she spoke her words of "wisdom."

Something must be done.  What I need to do now are two things.

  1. I must now never leave the house without lipstick when doing any activity that does not require a leash, a dog and a baseball hat.  I fear that should I do this, I may find myself in a matter-of-life-and-death situation where only I have the information necessary to stop the tragic death of a child - - and the only person capable of physically saving the dying child is a deaf person who can only read lips.  In a face devoid of readable lipage - - the child would certainly perish.  I can't have that on my conscience.  (And yes, if you are paying attention I am clearly going to accept that risk while walking the dog.  I don't know why.  Just lazy I guess.)
  2. Go and buy some better everyday lipstick.  This, sadly, requires a visit to the make-up counter.  I detest the make-up counter.  All that youth with all that make-up spackled on - judging us old folks with wrinkles and aversions to 27 individually applied layers of water-proof mascara.  It's hellish.  But, I need some "normal lip color."  Dismally, I suspect that this not an available shade choice:  Normal Lip Color.  Instead, I will be forced to consider and slog through various varieties of berries, a smattering of spices and most likely a standard fruit or two before , finally, in utter frustration I just roll-over and buy what the lady says looks good.  Subsequently, I will discover that I hate it.  This will happen while I am driving the car and pull down the little mirror at a stop light to apply slightly more "Dazzling Berry" to my non-existent lips and I will notice that in the light of day the color makes my lips look like semi-dried earth worms instead of lucious berries.  But I will wear it because if not children could die and all that.  Sheesh.
 Oh yes -- and that last thing - - I will now begin reciting the  lie wisdom-of-the-aged to all my younger relatives - - daughter, cousins, nieces - -

"A little lipstick makes everything better"

Let's see how damn long they think it's simply a metaphor.... 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Emmy's 2011 - better late than never....

Watched the Emmys the other nite.  Of course I did.  Sucker for those awards shows and all that I am.  Set the DVR, planned pick-ups and deliveries of two teenage boys to coincide with the viewing.  Even set the DVR to include the pre-show red carpet so I could check out all that glamor, all that glitz, all those poor fashion choices.  Best laid plans and all that.

Thanks to the poor sportsmanship of the network (not to mention the 49'ers and the Cowboys) seems that there is a definite heirarchy to what American wants to watch.  Red Carpet vs. sweaty large men pushing and shoving each other in to over time.  Me?  I'm for the red carpet.  The rest of America?  Heavily padded freakishly large men and a ball.  I lost.

Still, when I'm wrong I say I'm wrong and 20 minutes in to the truncated version of "Red carpet by Fox", I sadly admitted that the network was absolutely right in their  choice.  I didn't have a single clue who Fox's red carpet announcers were, and worse - - they were horribly bad.  Were they behaving badly because they also felt usurped by the game coverage?  Who knows, but I am SO glad that I was in the position to fast forward.  Yuck.  20 minutes of nuttin honey.  Disappointment.

So, on with the show:
  • Jane Lynch was an adroit host.  Thought she'd get a little more "Gervaise", but heard that the network pulled in her reigns a scosh in rehearsals.  Too bad.  She can be very funny with the right material.  Given a little more leash and I think she would have been fabulous!
  • What was with the cut-down-to-there dresses this year?  Julie Bowen (modern family), Anna Panquin, Kristin Wigg, and yes, even the daughter from modern family (Ariel Winter) was showing was too much of her tender 13 years.  And, while Julie Bowen claims that she just naturally has the figure of a 14 year old - - I still think a couple o'snickers bars a day ought to help with the bony-breast plate thing she's got going between her wee breasts.
  • What in tarnation was Julianna  Margulies wearing?  Resembled a mid-century lampshade with a pleather diner bench skirt. Tragic.  And I LIKE mid-century.  Just not furniture as clothes.
  • Dear Zooey Deschanel - - Did you miss your prom as a child?   And I might suggest that using the ribbon from your last year's xmas gift from your mom might as a belt not have been the best choice no matter how "recycle/reuse" you were going for.
  • It it probable that many people had to run to look up the word, "grandiloquent" used in Julian Fellowes acceptance speech.  If you were one of them, be aptly forewarned.  Only brits can say that word and not be considered total knobs.  Same with the word "dodgy." Oh and the word "knob."
  • Did Guy Pearce borrower Martin Scorses' glasses?  The proof in in the photos....

  • Who doesn't love the song Hallelujah?  Sung by 4 Canadian tenors.  Teared up a little at all the Moms we lost this year. 
  • Whether spur o' the moment or planned far in advance, the contestants for the lead actress comedy were spot on and jeepers they are all funny.  I was kinda hoping Melissa would win.  And so pleased she got a tiara.  Who doesn't want a tiara?  I don't watch Mike and Molly, so  I like to pretend she was winning for Gilmore Girls.  I was in love with that show.  I watched all 7 seasons in the year that Big George was working in London and we were stuck in Germany.  Kept me away from the schnitzel...
  • And last, for those of you, older than say 20, who were totally perplexed by the musical number of the night starring Lonely Island and Michael Bolton......the one that included a somewhat terrifying mommy-make-the-bad-men-stop segment with William H Macy....  I have a 15 year old that explained it all to me.  Here is the Lonely Island video upon which the farce was based.  This doesn't explain away the lap dance for William H - - or the "for everyone who's had sex in the last millennium", or the "better with three" parts - - but it helps.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In or Out?

There's a scene in "A League of Their Own" when Tom Hanks finally steps out of his drunken stupor and decides to start managing the team.  He and Genna Davis simultaneously give "Marla Hooch" conflicting hand signs from the dugout about what she should do at the plate.  Marla steps in the batters box.  She steps out of the batters box. She steps in the batters box.  She steps out of the batters box.  Finally, she swings away.

I was reminded of this film clip, not because I just saw the film again the other day AND cried at the end again the other day (so sue me) - - but because the whole concept of stepping in and stepping out of something- - or more precisely WHEN to step in and WHEN to step out of something was I've been wrestling with these past two days.

The story goes like this.  George the Younger texts me on his way home from soccer practice on Tuesday night with these words, "mom!  I didn't make the team!"  I text back casually, "Which team?"  Not that I'm an idiot - - of course I knew he was at soccer practice so I was referring to A SOCCER team-- but the question was more of did he not make the Varsity team (a looooong stretch since he is first a freshman and second he's no Pele) or did he not make the JV team?  He texts back "I didn't make any team."

I found the context of this text confusing.  Why, you might ask?  Kids get cut from sports teams all the time.  And didn't I just say he's no Pele?  This kid is a baseball player.  He only plays soccer every summer at camp.  End of story.  The basis of my befuddled state was the advertised "no cut" sports policy his newly attended high school.   The basic philosophy is that the boys get to try lots of different things.   It means your kid gets on the team.  It doesn't mean he gets to play in games, in fact he could ride the bench hard all season long - but he does get to attend practice with the team and if in some weird "Rudy" moment he actually triumphantly takes the field, more power to him.

So George the Younger gets home from soccer practice thirty minutes later.  He walks in the door with devastation embedded in his very being.  He's shell shocked.  This boy is an athlete.  This boy has never before been cut by a team.  He just got named MVP of Color War at camp for his athletic contribution by his fellow campers.  He didn't know what to do with himself.  So, the face of this terrible news, combined with the emotional stress of starting a new school, exacerbated by the lack of sleep given his new schedule (no red-blooded human teenager should have to get up at 6:00a.m.) - - and well dang, I had a living breathing basket case on my hands.  He didn't understand how he had been cut.  Cue the tears.  "I picked this school so I could try different stuff."  Giant angst.  "I'm not going to play on the baby team!!!"  What baby team?  What was he talking about??

As it turns out, there was going to be a "baby team."  The non-upset-wounded-pride-14-year-old title for this team is technically the "Developmental Team."  How did I find this out?  Well, here's the stepping IN part:  I sent a very nice email to the director of athletics and the head of school.  [Yikes!  Was this the first step in "helicopter parenting" during my son's high school years???  Egad, I hope the hell not.  I hold distain for those kind of parents.]  But, I needed to understand if we misunderstood the school policy - - its sports philosophy - as it were.  Kindly, the school responded quickly - first a nice email from the athletic director (containing a forwarded email that had been send out the weekend before describing how they needed to have a 3rd developmental squad because they had an unprecedented number of boys go out for the soccer team this year.  I didn't get this email because George the Younger gave them the wrong email address) and then I had a nice phone call from Shuja (not the head of school, but the admissions guy who we knew from applying) - - swell guy!  All was well  - - no philosophy changes.  All good., except I still needed to deal with my son's disappointment on being assigned to the "Development Team" - - a team that would still play a couple o' games, and who's members would be able to move up to the JV as their skills increased.  But it's still a bitter pill to swallow when you're the only boy in your carpool not to have made the JV or Varsity teams.  That stings, but he would survive it.

Now for the stepping OUT part.  I told George the Younger I was going to ask the school about philosophy -- which I did.  But, to get the answer to the "what the heck happened to me and why didn't I make the team???" question - well, that was something only the coach would know.  The coach conversation was something he needed to do.  I don't talk to coaches.  He's not my coach.  He's his coach.  If players have questions or want to talk - - the player needs to do it  The mom (or dad) needs to stay the heck out of it.  He said he would do it at the next practice.

Yesterday, I head to the school for a meeting on an entirely different subject.  George the Younger is waiting there in the courtyard - - still looking a tad dejected - - but now he's obviously been bolstered up by his new group of homies who are similarly incensed that George did not make the team (I'm beginning to "get" the whole boy-brotherhood thing.  They're like tiny little packs of wolves they way they already hang together).  I told him what I had found out from my research and we talked about how he was going to couch his comments to the coach (i.e. don't be a whiny baby - ask what skills you need to improve to make the team - find out what he's looking for - be mature about it).  Just then his phone buzzes.  And seconds later a smile the size of the world appears on his face....

Why?  The text is from a fellow freshman soccer player currently getting ready to start the first JV game of the season out at Treasure Island (where George the Younger is NOT since he didn't make the team).  What does the text say?  Something to the tune of "WHERE R U???  You're supposed to be starting!!!" (I'm sure the full words were not spelled out- - but I got no skills in text-ish.).  My reaction to the text?  WTF?  (non-verbal of course)

Turns out that the coach had meant to put George the Younger's name on the list.  He just forgot.  He didn't transfer the names correctly from one sheet of paper to another.  So at 4:15 we head across the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island.  The normal 15 minute ride - - stretches to 40 minutes or beyond with traffic - - but we're pretty lucky and make it in 30.   George the Younger has no soccer gear with him, he cannot play in the game.  But he's there to talk to the coach.  Which he does.  Which makes him smile.  Cause yes, he was on the team.  The world, in his estimation, had righted itself.

I remember now - - this High School parenting thing.  The still-having-to-step-in for the "administrative stuff" and the needing-to-step-out while they learn to take care of their own business.  All of this would have been a non-issue if George the Younger had simply "stepped-UP" the night the team announcements were made and talked to the coach right then and there.  A little life lesson learned.  He still might have gotten the news that he was on the "developmental squad" - but he would have had facts to deal with instead of his imagination gone wild ("I will prolly NEVER be able to play sports at SH until my senior year when they HAVE to take me even if I SUCK", "I'm not going to have any friends since ALL my friends are on the team and I am NOT!").  But that is hard to do.  Hard for an adult.  Especially hard for a 14 year old faced with bad news.

So, my time in the batting box begins.  Step in.  Step out.  It would be a whole lot easier if I were getting hand signals from the dugout.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Compare and Contrast

This morning George the Younger donned his new high school "uniform" apparel and headed out in to the foggy San Francisco morning for his first day of High School.

I managed to get him to stand still for a moment to capture the moment as he rushed out the door at 7-flipping-a.m.  Sadly, the photos were not well focused.  I was rushing since he really didn't feel the moment needed historical photographic documentation. I explained that ALL "first days of school" have been duly documented in his life, so would he just stand the heck still and let me take the damn photo?  He acquiesced and smiled.  And then, in a blur he rushed out the front door to catch his carpool.

I spent the next hour researching photoshop techniques and managed to cobble together his first days of kindergarten and high school.  Can you say "nostalgic?"

The differences between the two "first days" are obvious. He's taller and he's sporting a duster.  He has a heavier backpack full of bigger books with more words and less pictures.  He won't get a happy-sunshine-sparkly-rainbow name tag when he gets to his classroom (at least I am certain he is praying he doesn't!).  He doesn't need to carry a nap mat and I'm doubtful he will get a morning snack.  He didn't need me or George the Elder to hold his hand on the way to school.  Although, I still helped him pack his backpack last night and watched him open and close the lock for his locker several times to ensure proficiency.  Miss Barbara will not be there to greet him with a snappy morning song strummed on her zither.

But the two photos side-by-side remind me that he's still our same sweet guy inside - -  off to make new school friends and conquer new adventures.  And Mr. Farrel, the headmaster, will be there to greet him with a grown-up handshake welcoming him to his first official day as a freshman at Stuart Hall High School.

I'm a bit misty over the whole thing.  Can you tell?

Monday, July 25, 2011

When Rocks Fly

Were you aware that a "rock" is classified as a "boulder" when said rock is simply too large for a person to move?   In other words, all boulders are rocks, but only some rocks are boulders.  (Are you getting that creepy feeling like you're taking a university logic class yet??)  I didn't know this.  I know it now.  And I know it because George the Elder and I bought a boulder.  Of course we did.

We went to a local stone quarry a couple of weekends ago to buy a bunch of smallish landscaping rocks to cover up all the dirt that still surrounds the front of the CMR.   Since the whole kitandkaboodle of landscaping is going to be Phase 27.5 of the CMR expected to occur sometime in the second millennium - we needed a little somethin somethin between now and then.  See the dirt just kicks up and gets my newly painted house all groady.  Can't have that happening for the next 7 thousand light years.  So, we head down to this cool quarry to pick out some rocks.  We bought a couple of tons of them.  Literally.  Two. tons. of. rocks.  Turns out that rocks are pretty heavy.  And while we were strolling around the stone yard, we decided to buy - - well, the boulder.  A 1.5 ton boulder to be exact.  Most people buy gum or mints as impulse buys.  Us?  A bronze boulder.

We had it all delivered.  Wasn't that nice of them?  We could have rented our own couple o'ton dump truck -  but we took (what we thought then) was the easy way out.  "Please come and put everything where it belongs."   The morning of the delivery I was so excited.  No more dirt around the CMR!!  Cool boulder in the front too.!! But, alas.  So goes the best laid plans. The boulder and the rocks could only be put on the driveway.  Dang it.

Now moving two tons of little rocks is not a particularly unsolvable problem.  This is why we have sons and husbands.  To solve these problems.  They take buckets full of little rocks garnered from the big crate of rocks and spread them around.  Lots and lots of buckets full.  About 100 trips of buckets full to be exact. Are they happy to do this?  No.  But do they do it?  Yes.  But a big bronze boulder?  That would required some heavier lifting.

We briefly considered the logistics of hiring manual laborers to do the deed.  I mean - -a whole scad of not-so-big Cambodians built a lot of temples in Siem Reap with much larger stones than these and a tremendously long distance to move them.  The same could be said for the pyramids.  I mean - - amazing right?  Big stones, moved long distances, placed strategically way up high!  Yet, without minions of workers - generations full of minions - we realized we needed to take a different tact.  SF frowns on toys with happy meals.  Disposable generations of manual laborers?  I don't think so.

So, we went all machine age on the problem and we hired a crane.  Who knew you could do this?  You simply get on Yelp.  Search for crane operators.  Rule out the ones that only do sky scrapers and -- you get three bids.  Neato.  Keeno.  We chose the cheapest one.  We also chose the one that didn't feel the need to pay the city of SF $600 for a street operating permit.  Getting my rock moved AND not paying the city?  Marvelous!

In the end moving the boulder cost roughly the same amount as the boulder itself.  Go figure.  Yet, we love our little boulder bench.  I hope we love it.  It's never going anywhere ever again.

Bronze boulder and .25 tons of the stones left on the driveway

GIANT crane arrived for hoisting.

Crazy nice crane operator "Sean" dons his hard hat and we're off to the races!
And, no.  I did not partake of his erection services.  Thank you.

First we pick up boulder from drive way.  I am the assistant.
I get to place the hoists on the rock.
I do not get a hard hat.  I am disappointed.

Boulder is put on the back of the crane bed for a short trip around to
the front of the CMR!

"X" marks the spot for the Boulder.
Excellent markage by my very own tennis shoe.
We are professionals!

With large crane now repositioned - we heft that bad johnny up.
I am standing ready to give the hand signals - oh
except I am taking pictures too!

Boulder coming towards me!  It seems much bigger in person when a
1.5 boulder is moving towards your head.  I put the phone
away at this point and start waving my arms.

After much hand signalling the boulder is finally mostly where we want it.
Actually, it's definitely where we want it since it cannot
ever be moved from here :).  Ever.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Out of my League

Yesterday I headed down to that hallowed hall of learning named "Stanford."  Really nice place.  I went there to drop off Henry who will be immersed in all things "physics" with many other like minded middle schoolers.  We used to call those "like-minded" kids "Nerds."  Now, most of us call them our bosses (heh heh heh).  But, I digress.

I, myself, learned a few things about Standford yesterday during my short visit there.  I learned that Stanford has the largest contiguous university campus in the world.  They also have the second largest video library - - surpassed only by Netflix.  I learned that our tour guide, a rising sophomore, had a great deal of information to impart regarding his personal engineering academic pursuits, the hours a college freshman keeps, his hometown (DC), what "not-to-do" with regards to sticking around campus at Thanksgiving (a real yawn-fest), what dorm he will be staying in next year, the age of most of the woman in his future dorm (seniors!  Out of his league!) and his fervent hope that he, and his 12 other fellow sophomores, will "rule the place" as the year progresses. All of these little tidbits were divulged as we passed by a number of important and large Stanford edifices for which I have no additional knowledge of post-tour than I did pre-tour.  But, I will die knowing that you should NEVER, NEVER EVER, take a 10:00 a.m. class (the earliest class offered at this revered institution of knowledge) because that's just BRUTAL.   Excellent advice for the large crowd of middle-schoolers who were the intended audience.

I was also reminded that Henry (and his ilk) are the smart ones.  We parents are simply the ones that fill out the paperwork.  Having filled out this paperwork does not make you the smart one.  It may possibly indicate that you are organized and have excellent skills in ensuring that your child's name and address are correctly spelled and that his test scores are adequately attached to the application.  This should not be confused with smart.  Smart is when I asked Henry's new roommate whether he liked Physics or not and he blithely replied, "I LOVE physics.  I am a huge fan of Michio Kaku, especially his work on Hyperspace and Parallel Worlds."  Was this kid 12 or just really short with good skin?   Henry nodded sagely and retored, "I like him TOO!"  My mouth just hung slightly agape.  Them = smart.  Me = Who the hell is Michio Kaku??? 

I will miss our budding physics PHD canidate while he is gone.  But he's gonna have a bang-up time swimming around in the super endowed gene pool of science for the next couple of weeks.  Me suspects that he will return home full of mind boggling factoids about atoms and Einstein and Quantum field theory.  All good.  Unless you are me and will be forced to smile and nod as if I have one teensy bit of understanding as to what in Kaku's hell he is talking about.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


"Moving" means things other than packing and unpacking, finding new digs, and starting a new routine - -new grocery stores, new schools, new jobs, new restaurants.  It also means that you have to leave old friends and try to make some new ones.  This part - - well, this part can be hard.  Especially when those friendships don't thrive given the distance.

What I've come to realize is that sometimes the friends that are the "best" while you're in a place, living a certain piece of your life - turn out to have a shelf life.  And, amazingly, sometimes the friends that you never expected to endure are those that stand the test of time.  The former are a bitter pill, the later are a real gift.

I've recently had to come to terms with recognizing that a "best-ie" friendship isn't going to make the long haul.  I keep wondering what happened.  I wonder if it's something specific that I did.  Is it that I didn't call often enough?  Is it that our "new" non-expat like isn't a spectacular match to a continuing expat life?  Is it that my newly chosen profession of "mom" doesn't suit?  I dunno.  But, whatever it is - - the friendship seems to have run its course.  Sad.  Who'd've thunk it?  Not me.  But there it is.  And I think at this point stretching out the post-mortem will serve little good.

Has this ever happened to you?  You expect a friendship to grow old with you, but for no known reason (at least to you) the friendship peters out?  Fizzzzzzzzle.

I will mourn this one and miss her.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Chronicle of Commencement

Ah yes, I am late to the game in reporting on the high falooting graduation festivities marking the end of George the Younger's elementary days.  Partly this is because I am a lazy procrastinating nere do well.  The other part is because I had a little trouble getting behind the whole 8th grade graduation concept.  My single question - - what exactly is it that he has done to merit a procession, recession, commencement speech and diploma - - all gussied up with a fancy buffet lunch and evening party?  I never did get an answer to that question  - - but come the day of commencement, I was there to witness the event.  I even teared up a little...

OK, so it was more like burst in to tears, but it wasn't the graduation that did it - - it was the suit.  And the tie.  And the dress-up shoes.  There I was rushing around trying to get my own self ready and in walked George the Younger looking like - - well, he was looking like a MAN.  Caught me unawares, even though I was there when he bought the suit, and the tie, and the dress-up shoes.  Something happened when he put all the pieces together and instead of my little boy, he morphed in to something that could have a real girl friend, a drivers license and job.  Sniffle sniffle.

All the cool boys hung out together before the procession. Given all the suits it either had to be a funeral or graduation.  The fedora and the purple shiny shirt (back row) help to rule out the funeral...

Aunt Deb came up for the event, but we failed miserably at our heretofore unblemished record of "getting the best seats" at large community events.  Believe me, at all of Shannon's prior graduations, seating was PRIORITY and Deb was leading the charge.  I think we were one of the first 10 people seated at the RISD graduation last year.  We are professionals.  We are pros.  We were late.  Dang.  Blemished record.  Graduation 2013 we are going to be on top of things.

 Not only were we late, but our default seats were on the wrong side of the auditorium to get any photos of the procession.  We were further on the wrong side of the auditorium to get any photos of the recession.  I (of course) mentioned this to the head of school for future graduations.  Down one side, up the other.  Have to give all the parents a fightin' chance.  And even tho there are no photos, there was the elementary school band playing pomp and circumstance (but again, I still was not clear on why all the pomp - - they managed to read The Giver and take Algebra 1 - - that's it...) and the classe arrived to take their seats on the stage - - all 31 members of the class of 2011.  Huzzah!!!

This is George the Younger being lauded by his science teacher.  Each of the kids got a couple moments of praise from one of the teachers at the school.  It was a nice touch.  I would add this caveat:  Dear Teachers,  You are supposed to be talking about the kids - - not yourself.  Keep this in mind next year when you are blathering on about your homeland in Puerto Rico, your prowess as a music teacher, or your looong tenure at the school.  We.  Don't. Care.  Focus.  Talk. About. The. Student.  Okay?

The next phase of the graduation ceremony (now heading into hour 2.5) was the "Showcase of Great Things I can do" presented by the students themselves.  We had a tap dancer, a couple of singers (loosely defined), we had juggling (yes we did!), we had poetry recited, we had bands and we had a lot of slide shows.  Slide shows were clearly the easiest way to meet this particular showcase o' talent requirement.  George the Younger choice?  Slide show.  This is him introducing it.  It was pretty good.  He also used the music "Like a Slide show" to accompany  slide show - apropos, oui?  And if you are tired of hearing the words "slide show" think about watching a dozen of them.

Requisite diploma and official diploma handshake from head of school.

And then the celebrations:  Kids with candy leis....

George the Younger with his own "Miss Susie" (Blind Side reference for the uninformed") - - we love her!  She loves G and made a GIANT impact in his life these past 3 years.  We owe her big time.  Too bad her eyes are shut.  Hazard of taking photos without your glasses on.  The picture looked good to me when I took it.  Course, I couldn't see it at all, but it looked super!

 A "dance with your mom" moment at the evening party...

And although this isnt' really what was going on - - check out the look of horror and embarrassment that seems to be caused by George the Younger having to watch his mother dance.  We're to the left of the photo and he is behind me.  Technically, he was reacting to something his friend Griffin was saying - - but wowza - - it sure does look like I am scarring him for life.

And that - - was graduation 2011.  George the Younger?  Officially a high school freshman.  Mom?  Still wondering what the diploma says....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rides of Passage

There comes a time in every teenagers life when Mom is just tired of driving him around.  Not old enough for a driver's license yet.   But clearly old enough to want need to break out and do some exploring.  So what's a 14 year old guy to do?  The obvious answer?  Learn to ride the bus.

George the Younger embarked on his first solo SF Municipal transport adventure today.  I know.  Some may say that it's about damn time.  But, I'm a little protective of my chickens, and to be honest, George the Younger isn't generally much of a risk taker.  Getting home by himself = taking risks.  So, today I forced his hand.

He wanted to go to Japantown after summer school with some new buddies from The Hall.  Something tells me he completely anticipated me offering to come and pick him up when he was finished.  Instead, I told him he needed to get himself home.  George the Elder and I took bets this morning that he wouldn't go through with it.  Shock the shit out of me - - but he did it!

Japantown to our neighborhood requires a several block walk to the right street, catching the right bus, getting off at the right bus stop, finding the way to the underground muni station and getting on the correct outbound train.  He's done the train before by himself - - but the rest was a virgin voyage.  It would be stellar if I could say that he managed this journey solely on the single (albeit) very long text that I send him early this morning - - but still.  Thanks to three slightly panicked calls to me (which side of the street?  where is Geary?  What is downhill?  which train?  There's a fork in the road!!!  Which way do I go???  You said 3-4 blocks and it's past 4...), one call to Dad when I apparently did not answer the phone immediately (which side of the street does the bus come on?), and some help from a kind stranger when he found himself heading the wrong way while walking - - I finally got the text that said:  "I'm on the train"  Hurrah!

The most excellent news is that this route is the very same that he could take to school starting in the fall.  When I mentioned this, he looked aghast  - what do you mean you won't always drive me and pick me up when it's SCHOOL?  What he doesn't realize is that this cardinal expedition is the first baby step in his eventual ticket to freedom-from-mom.  This particular light will go on sometime in the middle of next year when he recognizes that my schedule no longer meets his need to hang out places with his buddies.  Or girls.

I'll admit that it's a trifle wistful on my part.  George the Younger is moving further out in to the world.  Taking the bus all by himself and finding his way home.  When he came in the door I gave him a big hug and congratulated him.  A hug containing both my joy and my heartache.  It's my job to make sure he only saw the joy.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

If at first you...

don't succeed, try again and then crush the flip video underneath your foot while stomping up and down.  Flip Video was another EPIC fail today.  Filmed some and then the camera decided it didn't like me and wouldn't film anymore.  Obviously, when the computer says "Server Rejected" that should be translated to "Stoopid person using camera:  Give it the hell up would ja!!!"

I decided to go the good old fashioned route and just take some photos.  It's not as fun as a moving picture, it doesn't get cool music to go along with it, but it does have the advantage of getting people off my ever lovin arsky about putting up some photos.  You know who you are!!!

All the "fancy schmancy decor" is not done yet (a picture is worth a thousand and all that), but it's getting there bit by bit.  "Fancy Schmancy Decor" in our case refers to whatever it is that we are doing in the CMR.  We're in to mishmash.  Live with it or don't come visit. 

The laundry room photo is clear indication that there are some places in the CMR that are being used as indoor garages :)  The garage -- for which there is no photo - - well let's just say we can get one car and one motorcycle in there.  End. of. story.

I did find that taking movies and photos inside the CMR is a bit tricky doodle given all the windows.  So much light coming in is good for living, bad for a crappy photographer such as myself.  But, you'll get the gist.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Almost, Kinda...FAIL

Yeah, yeah, I know....where have I been?  What have I been doing?   Awww, you know.  Just sitting around eating bonbons catching the last Oprah show and all that.  If wishes were horses....

But the other day I got up off my duff and at the request of several, I once again put hand to flip video.   Over the last many days I have tried and cajoled, uploaded and canceled that frickin flip video about a billion times.  Notice how it is not attached to this post.  I am a flip failure.  I even had my IT God, George the Elder try to copy it to Mother (our big giant computer upstairs that dims the lights in SF when it is turned on) and it was still a fail.  Fail, fail, fail.

Last time I did this I held the camera, shot the video, uploaded the video, added some music, made a movie and uploaded it to the blog.  Like falling off a horse.  About now, that same horse is now running aimlessly without a tether.  Dang.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try and shoot it again.  Who knows, maybe I corrupted the file by holding the camera incorrectly.  You know, like in my own hand or something.  Think good thoughts and stay tuned.  This can be done....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Black and Blue

While I'm not quite ready to share interior photos, things are definitely shaping up around here at the CMR.  It's slowly beginning to feel more like home again, and I'm hopeful that it won't be too terribly long before I stop slamming into my bedroom dresser every single damn time I exit the bathroom.  It's this weird combination of "knowing" the house from before and things being different now.  Big furniture used to be "there" and now it's "here."  Some things are familiar and other things - - well - they cause you to have a proliferation of really superior looking purple/yellow bruises on hip bones, shins and arms.  This bruising can be socially problematic.

I went to see a dermatologist the other day to get a little doohickey removed from under my eye.  While I was there he suggested a full body check (white girl, aged 50+,  used to hang out in the sun, and all that..)  He checked out all the inches of my lily white wrinkly body and then became oddly silent.  I think he was thoughtfully composing exactly what he wanted to say... something on the lines of: Does your husband beat you and did I know that there were organizations to help me get out of that abusive relationship??  Nice to know he's not only concerned with my dermatological well being, whether or not George The Elder is a wife beater.  All good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

CMR Moving Day Photos: I am not a tech Goddess

What did I learn today??  I learned how to embed a Picasa Slide Show in to my Blog.  These kinds of things make me happy.  Why?  Because I am a tech-dope.  My mother knows more about operating her computer than I do.  If something should happen to George the Elder I am TOAST.  The Geek Squad will need to move in to the guest room permanently.  I am awful.

But today I "learned" - - all on my own.  One - I googled how to do it.  Two:  I watched a You-Tube video.  Three:  It actually worked.  My whole day has been made by a 4 minute tutorial.  Small life, eh?

And so.....drumroll please.....  Please find the embedded slide show of the CMR the morning of our move in.  It doesn't take a genius to know that it no longer looks like this.  Instead it is filled with many things and most of those things are sitting where they are not supposed to be.  I am making progress - - slowly...very slowly.... but with any luck I will whip out the flip camera over the next few days and you can see it "with stuff" - -

(NOTE:  If it looks just like a black box, click on it.  If you can't see the comments click on the text box next to the person...  OK...maybe I'm not as good as I thought....)

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's a Date and Spinal Tap

I went on a date last night with George the Elder.  We went to hear some live music. We grabbed a bite before the show while the boys stayed home and ate pizza.

"Wowza!", you are thinking.  "How amazingly sweet for your husband to plan an evening out on Mother's Day!"  Now, you know how much I love George the Elder, and many of you know that he loves me too.  But, those of you who know him best would also know that while he is sweet and kind and generous - - remembering Mother's Day in ADVANCE would not be one of his hallmarks.  Nope.  This musician just happened to be playing in SF on Mother's Day.  George the Elder likely realized this on Saturday morning.  Still, it was pretty serendipitous.  So, Go Him.

We only go hear live music occasionally.  And most of those occasions are to see artists that George The Elder would like to see.  More often than not - - and last night was no exception - - it's a BIG surprise to me who this person is.  It's also a big surprise as to what they are playing since I have never heard of these people I would not have them on my i-pod play list.  That's assuming I owned an i-pod which I don't since I have this really weird thing about putting earphones in my ears and not being able to hear anything around me.  I find it all really hinkey.  Another story for another day.

As we were waiting for the music to begin, I asked George the Elder, "what does this guy look like?"  He declined to answer - - he wanted me to see for myself.  This is William Fitzsimmons....

Big Beard.  Bald Head.
A little disconcerting (get it?  dis-concerting??? - - never mind).  On stage walks what can only be described as a cross between mega-mind, an Hasidim Jew, and some guy in safety glasses and a lumberjack shirt  - and then this guy, this weird looking guy - - alone with his guitar starts to sing.  Amazing.  And while, as he admits, most of his songs are sad-wrist-cutting in nature, his voice is hauntingly beautiful and he plays a sweet sweet guitar.  I'm pretty sure, if you click on this little link below you can hear him sing....

We had a really great time. 

But, before Fitzsimmons came on, we were "treated" to a little warm up act.  They, not so memorable, since I can't remember their names - were excellent food for fodder as we waiting.  My observations?
  • Never watch Spinal Tap (or portions of Spinal Tap) prior to going to see live music at a small independent theater.
  • If you do happen to watch Spinal Tap prior to going to see live music at at a small independent theater, it will be impossible to take anything seriously no matter how good they are.  The words, "11", "haberdashery" and a vision of a teeny little Stonehenge descending can't be erased.
  • Songs starting with the lyrics, "Tilt your head back until the bleeding stops" and "Singing to the houseplants" just add fuel to the fire.
  • Dear small group, just because you have digital music equipment that allows you to play every instrument known to man plus a few of your own inventions- you do NOT, and I repeat, do NOT need to use every one of them in every song.  Pick a couple.  Stick with those.  There's no good reason to have bagpipes. honky-tonk piano, english horn and ancient zither in one 3 minute song with a synthesized percussion going great guns in the background.
  • If you are only playing about 10 songs you do not also need to bring 17 other musical instruments on to the stage with you.  a)  it looks cluttered and b) those three cords that you played on the banjo in song #5 could have been done without.  It didn't add much, and hey!  why is that the one instrument that you didn't use your digital equipment for?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Paper Fingers

After months of construction, minor trials and tribulations - WE'RE IN!

"We're in" is not to be defined as "amazingly-they-have-everything-in-it's-place" - it's more of a looser term meaning that things were indeed delivered in many boxes, things have been removed from said boxes and are currently sitting in around in great piles waiting to be put some where at some time.   I have not given myself a goal as to when this will be done.

All I know is that, unlike prior moves when I had everything done and pictures hung in 72 hours (or less), this particular move is going at a much slower pace.  Why?  I am old.  10 years of aging has a way of making you decide that going to bed is a much better option than staying up until the wee hours of the morn trying to figure out where the coffee table books look their loveliest.  Now, my feet and legs are screaming out "stop you damn fool!"  Not to mention that George the Elder has been riding my butt reminding me that nothing is going anywhere - - so why kill yourself...  True that.

Along with tired aching joints and the almost feral desire to buy numerous pairs of stupid looking, yet comfortable, shoes (like crocs or something of the sort) - - I am now sporting some of the driest hands this side of the Central Time Zone.  I forget that when unwrapping china (along with nearly everything else that had been in storage for the past 2 years - - including a small wrapped package containing exactly one small plastic die in three large sheets of packing paper) that each move has likely been directly responsible for the decimation of enough rain forest to displace a moderately sized village of  Kayapo tribesman.  It's mid blowing.  I must finger each one of those pieces of paper.  Unwrapping, flattening and repacking the paper to take up less space that then box it was delivered it.  The result?  Paper Fingers.  The kind of dry that no amount of industrial strength bag balm can address.  Only time, and the eventual molting of all hand skin, will heal.

I do have photos of the house right before we moved in - - so I will post those as soon as George the Elder can figure out how we lost our video signal on our computer from the time it was disconnected at the temp apartment and reconnected here at the CMR.

And, at some time in the future, when all the art books have been creatively arranged and the myriad of elementary school ceramics have been places on shelves, I will also take some photos of the CMR-with-stuff.   Cools beans for sure!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

CMR: The Home Stretch 4/24

Folks were at the house both Saturday and Sunday working feverishly on getting the CMR ready in time for the Wednesday night deadline.  We are confident that our movers are on schedule to arrive at our temp apartment to pack and move.  I wish I could say I have the same high confidence level regarding the completion of the construction :)  And yet, I am hopeful that these guys will pull at rabbit out of their hats to make sure that most things are done - - at least those necessary to move in.  Only time will tell.  72 hours of time to be exact.

Mostly, they're working on the icing.  My favorite part of the whole construction cake.  The end of the week brought Dan, now forever known as THE man of steel, in our books.  Most of the railings have been installed in the interior....

The kitchen railing and Dan THE man of steel

The railing that will serve the purpose of ensuring that
a) I do not fall in to the lower room
b) the boys have something to climb over for sport

The Wii Room railing.  Will this room ever get a better moniker???  I hope so.

Another photo of the kitchen railing.  Why?  It's too cool for school.

The lower railing as seen from the pool room up to the rumpus room.
New wine closet WITH lights can be seen.

The birch panelling is HERE!!  Not finished yet, but it's the bees knees.
And in the best game of "Fish" ever - - we got what we asked for!

The new bath is almost completely done.  Glass enclosure, sink,
 toilet, faucets and towel bars.

The polished concrete floors are revealed in the downstairs bed rooms.
They need a quick additional polish, but they're swell.

"Some" of our light switches have been outfitted with these nifty mid-century
 push buttons.Many others will look exactly like this as soon as we get our
electrical inspection and the ugly white plastic toggle switches are removed!

Where to put the house numbers???  Here where they used to be?

Or here?  Where we like them better!!!
In 72 hours there's a lot to do.  Most importantly, we need some shelves in closets, the floors polished, the cabinetry in the wii room and the paneling completed.  Nice to have before we move in would be a back door (while the nice thick plywood is nice, a working door might be better), interior doors for all the rooms and closets and the completion of the finish for the skylights in the atrium.  There's a million little things that will remain - - but those we can "live" with for a while.

Oh yeah - - and somewhere in the next hours a nice cleaning crew would be great.  I went over today to clean the inside of the fridge.  Note to self:  If you're going to turn off your refrigerator for a year, one box of baking soda is not sufficient.  In a battle of time and residual humidity, mold will win.  Every time.