Sneak Peeks

I played with my new SU summer mini stuff!
One of my favourite items is the Doily Triple Layer Punch! Very cool. 

 As you can see, I am using it a whole bunch.
 When I saw the Travel Log set, I knew I had to have it for our travel albums.
 Summer Splash is too cute to pass up!
 And check this out...3 new colours of embossing powders!
I love the new colours on black!

 And The Open Sea was calling me too. I thought it would be great for masculine cards and layouts. I also got the matching Nautical Expedition paper. Not loving it yet. But SU's paper always grows on me.

And a little two step stamping with a hostess set.
 Kerry and I were discussing my shoe selection. I've been wanting slip-on shoes for awhile. I had to get rid of my charcoal suede Keens, they were sort of Mary Jane style. I got them before we went to Disneyland in 2007, I remember this because I wore them every day we were there! I loved those shoes. I paid about $60 for them, half price. I have since seen them for $120, and I won't pay full price for Keens. So, when I got new ones a year ago, Kerry said I had to get rid of the ratty shoes. And I did. Well, not right away, I kind of hid them. But they are gone now.
I have been looking for replacements, but haven't found the right ones. Until today. The shoe store had a big sale, and I went in. I found some charcoal suede Mary Jane Keens! Yay. But they were sold out of my size. Boo. But they had reddish orange ones too. Yay. But again, not in my size. Boo. So the woman said to try these other ones on, but they aren't suede and I have orange ones similar. I tried them on and they fit. Like Cinderella. But they had a little over glueage on the grey suede part and it's noticeable to me. She said it wasn't a big deal but I must have made a face because she gave me $20 off!  It was meant to be. I can only see the glue if I bend over and look at my feet. I won't bend over. They were half price and $20, I can afford to not bend over! Anyone want a pair of black hardly worn Sketchers?

We took Emily out to Ozeki's for her birthday dinner. We always have a great meal, and it's so inexpensive. Under $80 for the 5 of us to eat, meals and appies! Crazy. And we always feel full but never gross afterwards. The staff is great!
The lighting is terrible in there but it's nice to have your own little room to dine in. These 3 are goofs, and I was laughing so hard at them that I was crying. 

A Blog Award

Wow!  I received my first blogging award today!  Isn’t that pretty cool.  Getting award for something I actually like doing.  I was given this award for Sarah at Curiouser and Curiouser.  She has a awesome blog so be sure and check it out.
Now there are a couple of rules to receiving The Versatile Blogger Award.  First, you have to thank the person who gave it you by linking back to their post.  Second, you have to tell seven things about yourself.  Third, you have to award 15 recently discovered new blogs.
Here are seven things about me:
1.  By trade I am an electrician, although I am certified as a welder, air conditioning and refrigeration, hydraulics and pneumatics.
2.  I live by the ocean
3. I love everything about the ocean, except the hurricanes (although I am still fascinated by the storms).
4. I play the guitar, and write a lot of my own songs
5. I have my own line of surfer style jewelry, that I design, manufacture and sell
6. I have a special knack of being able to know how things operate and can fix most things.
7. I have lived or visited 8 different countries
I would like to give this award to the following blogs:
  1. Diary of a Wonderfully Wacky Ex-wife
  2. Incredible Creature's at Home and In The Wild!
  3. Scrapwedo
  4. Delayed Reaction Lounge
  5. The Vegetarian Center
  6. Ceramic That Passion
  7. Creative Tizzy
  8. Notes From the Second Half
  9. The Sweet Life
  10. Life After Kids
  11. Marlene's Many Hats
  12. The Glamorous Life of an Army Wife
  13. Is You Bored
  14. My Dishwashers Possessed
  15. Our Life in Alaska's Wilderness
Thank you again for the award.

A Little Bit Heartbroken

I would normally never discuss something as personal as this on the blog, but it felt necessary considering the events of the last couple of weeks. The end of graduate school is now here and I'm busy finishing things here in Cambridge and preparing to find job and start a new chapter in my life. It's been a stressful month and I haven't really felt up to blogging. With all the storm systems passing through the South yesterday, a significant of damage was done not only to our beloved alma mater Berry College, but also across the entire region. It hasn't been easy seeing the pictures on Facebook or watching videos of the storm in progress, especially when you're a thousand miles away and unable to help in the immediate relief efforts. I now recognize I need to give myself some time to grieve and reflect on these events. I hope that all of our Southern readers are safe and I am looking forward to returning to more optimistic blogging soon.

15 at 15

1. She has a camera and knows how to use it, just never remembers to take it with her. So happy we got her the Fuji FinePix XP10. It's shock proof, water proof, dust proof. She's dropped it, a few times and it's survived. Thanks to Michelle, at London Drugs for that recommendation. She doesn't know the first rule of photography, check your subjects surroundings. (not the junk on the table, counter, fridge), but I can tell that she took this in Dec. by the surroundings.
2. She has a Batman Thermos that she takes Chef Boyardee or leftovers in almost every day to school. This keeps things much warmer than the lame 'snack Thermos' Santa gave her.
3. She's eating a wider variety of foods. Thank goodness! She'd be a meatatarian if we let her.
4. She has a core group of friends that don't get together that often but when they do, they seem to have a blast, if you can judge fun by the amount of noise they make.
5. She's interested in sewing, too bad I'm not that good at it. She must get it from her grandma. But she can sew by hand and that's a good thing to be able to do.  Especially when you are too afraid to use the sewing machine.
6. She can read and understand way more Japanese then I can, she's self taught. I know food and swears.  She can watch the Japanese news and pick up most of what is going on. I just know they are speaking Japanese.
7. She draws 89% of the time she's awake. She comes from artistic stock, I'm not taking all the credit., mostly because I don't think I can. Her dad took fine arts, her grandpa likes to draw and create, her great uncle is an artist.
8. She has art in the local gallery. But she's shy about showing her work. If you ask her to see what she's drawn, she may not show you.
9. She plays her DS, eats or goes on the computer the other 11% of her time.
10. She has a brother. They get along like 2 peas in a pod. Two loud, guffawing, youtube watching peas.
11. She loves  Double Dream Hands, double rainbow, and this,  she quotes Antoine Dobson more than she should. She will love Double Dream Feet. (the link won't work) And Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper the mostest.
12. She doesn't like Justin Bieber, but knows who Rick Astley, Billy Joel, and Johnny Cash are. But you won't find them on her mp3 player, she's got Japanese Anime music on there.
 13. The Easter Bunny and Santa still visit her house.
14. She sometimes thinks her parents are hilarious. But most of the time thinks they are just plain cool!
15. She is 15 years old today!

Training junior athletes

I am a very busy person, but wouldn't want it any other way! Working two casual jobs, training, full time uni and coaching junior athletes leaves little time to paint nails and navelgaze.

My coaching is very much done in blocks: I will just be emailing, getting athlete feedback, writing down notes etc for later stages of programs and adjusting things for a couple of months, and then I will have a sit down when a new block of program is due and be at the computer for a whole day figuring out how best to help each athlete. It's all state level stuff, but with hopes from these juniors to go and race hard at a national level in years to come.

But what I always find useful is differing opinions on junior athlete mentality and physiology.

Aldo Sassi has trained many champion athletes, and states that a VO2max of >70 (for males) is required for a champion. Is it true? Well there is a correlation, but there are many exceptions to this rule! he write some interesting things about junior athletes HERE. Granted, coaching a junior world cup road rider is quite different in training load to a state level xc mountain biker, but there are quite a few similarities as well!


As a native Texan, I have been to many a party and played hit the piñata with a stick.  I have purchased several piñatas for the birthday parties of my own children. 
I have purchased these piñatas at the local grocery stores and Wal-Mart's.  Brightly colored paper-mache in the shape of stars, donkeys and flowers filled with special treats.  Sometimes for the older kids they are blind folded and spun around to disorientate them.  Smaller kids are given the stick and the piñata swung a little to make a challenge to the game.  Finally someone will hit the piñata and treats either of candy or coins fall to the ground.   All the kids scramble to get the treats.
This has been carried out in my family for several generations, just as pin the tail on the donkey was also played at the children’s birthday parties.
Today, I was reading online about how piñatas are a threat to your child’s psychological well being.  I had to take a double take at the article. 
Piñatas: A Bad Idea for Your Child's Party?
Vanessa Bartlemus, Yahoo! Contributor Network
A blindfolded child is let up to some poor helpless papier-mâché animal hanging off a tree by a string. They have a stick or a bat in their hand, and they proceed to whack the animal with all their might. Other children are cheering on the fight. When the piñata is broken open, candy spills out. Everyone rushes to grab as much candy as they can. It's every kid for them self.
Doesn't sound like such a good party game when it's put like that, huh?
Piñatas are not a good idea for your child's party. Children should never hit anything with a stick. Even worse, kids can get piñatas in their favorite character too. Doesn't anyone slightly cringe at the thought of their child whacking Dora the Explorer or Elmo around with a baseball bat? What is that doing for a child's character? Getting a flower or car piñata is only slightly less worse.
People carefully teach their children, from the first time they playfully hit as a baby, that hitting is wrong. They don't allow hitting in their family and they don't spank. But then children are allowed to hit piñatas to the breaking point. Then they get candy; they are rewarded for violent behavior!
So what are some better alternatives? There are now pull-string piñatas...which get rid of the hitting element. Your child pulls a string and the contents of the piñata fall out. That way, your child can have the experience of having a piñata at their party, without the violence.
As for the candy that spills out afterwards, each child is quickly grabbing as much as they can. Whatever happened to sharing? Not to mention that all that candy isn't that great for your child's health. And what about the shy kids, or the kids who aren't pushy? They end up with much less than everyone else. Is that how they're rewarded for their better behavior?
So what are some better alternatives? There are now pull-string piñatas...which get rid of the hitting element. Your child pulls a string and the contents of the piñata fall out. That way, your child can  have the experience of having a piñata at their party, without the violence. Fill it with healthy snacks or toys. Have a set number of toys or snacks inside and tell the children before hand how many of each thing they can each pick out. Or have a set number of the same kind of thing for each child, and have the birthday child pass out the toys/snacks to each of the other children. If you really want the children to have the experience of all grabbing after the piñata contents, let them, but at the end, observe each child and see if anyone seems to have not gotten as much. Then find a kid or kids who got a lot and ask them if they would like to share with the kid/kids who didn't get enough.
I know this article makes a seemingly innocent and well-liked party game seem horrible. Even I never thought twice about hitting a piñata till I recently saw kids with a piñata on T.V. and it dawned on me that, hey, this game is pretty violent! But please consider the implications it has for your child's behavior, and think twice before getting your child a piñata for your next party.

Maybe your child should never play baseball, softball, tennis and golf or any other sport that hits an object with a stick, racquet or bat.  I am uncertain where our country is heading when they think that competition is not a good thing and everything should be divided equal.
When I first read this article I thought it was a joke.  The more I read it, I realized this lady seriously believed this.  Competition is healthy as far as I am concerned.  What is this woman’s child going to do when they grow up and get their first job?  Start crying and demand they get paid the same amount of money as everyone else because they are shy.  Better yet, I hope the draft is not reestablished and we are at war and they are serving next to one of my children.  Excuse me Mr. Terrorist, can I pull your string.  Just surrender to me and we can all be happy!

Changing How it Turned Out - Kate Bueler

Changing how it turned out. I didn't know how it would turn out yet. But I had pieced together snapshots of scenes in my mini series of my mind. A melodrama of my heart and hope for the future. The qualities I liked in him played perfectly in this short by me. See I have a girlhood crush syndrome that my early 30s hasn't seemed to break. I get crushes on strangers. On the barista. On the neighbor. On the friend. On the dude I made out with once. Excitement from the first time, the first time feeling the taste of infatuation dances around me as I skip on the way home. I can't shake the excitement I feel for someone in the beginning. The beginning of anything. It might be my favorite part of it all.

I guess part of my giddiness is for the lightness I feel for the real thing. The real thing that does warm me beyond the beginning to the depths of companionship. I used to fall hard and fast but took a vacation from the every moving fast bullet train to the very slow one making every stop. And it first it was fine. It was okay. But boredom started to seep in through my pores. I still wanted adventure. I still wanted intrigue. I still wanted to feel my heart pump with excitement. The slow train was slow. And I wanted more. But how to walk of the line of want I want long term and what I desire short term? Can I have both the excitement and stability as I walk on this tightrope of love with my heart jumping in and out of my chest to my sleeve and back again?

I don't know. But I do know. I need vacations. Vacations from the slow train. I pull the stop and jump out and try something new. Unplanned and spontaneous. And so easy just to be. And then I feel the warmth of another around me soothing the need for now. But later as the scenes of the future play out. Sometimes I want more scenes. I want more snapshots. And I can't help but wonder how it will turn out. In thinking about it, can I change how it will? Or the faith I feel in things coming together allows me not to change anything at all. See sometimes you meet someone while on vacation from the things you are supposed to be doing that makes the excitement and wonder grow inside as you think what will be next. For you. For him. And the excitement tastes good and I force myself not to wonder how it will turn out. Or to change the ending. I just want another line. Another paragraph. Another chapter. Of this book.

Changing How it Turned Out - Anna Teeples

I need to fry some bananas. I got nothing on today's prompt and I know that when I am stuck on writing, you write anyways. It was a day full of tough messages to people who needed to hear things that they did not want to hear. Somewhere in all of this muck, I know I am changing something. Like a giant splinter stuck in my soul needing to work it's way out. And now, the splinter is out and there's a small tender wound needing attention. I finally have that space to rediscover some of me that has been caked in mud. At the end of a long day, when you are feeling worn out and broken, you gotta change the day.

I picked up my little battle worn skittle, turned on the gas burner and sprayed a fine layer of oil. I peeled a banana and sliced the knife through the long length of the yellow meaty center. I placed a half on the hot surface with a sizzle. Sprinkling a dusting of cinnamon while smelling the sweetness ooze into the air, I wait patiently as the sliced side caramelizes just a bit before turning it over. In a matter of minutes, my mouth is watering and anxious for the first bite of warm banana. The beauty of this wonderful delight is the un-necessity of any other accompaniment, no need for chocolate or ice cream or warm dripping caramel. Just bananas, fried bananas. A perfect ending to soul shifting day.

Changing How it Turned Out - Melody Cryns

We live in a lovely little home amid trees and flowers with a garden, slightly unkempt in front. The house looks like an English cottage – it’s the house I passed by almost every day those few months we lived in San Jose near the Rose Garden neighborhood. But the house isn’t in San Jose – no, it’s right by the beach in Santa Cruz. We can walk to the beach with the harbor and the lighthouse.

My mother, who thankfully quit smoking when she was younger, is still around and comes to visit often. Megan invites her lovely friends over. She’s almost finished with high school and is graduating at almost the top of her class. My older kids are all very successful and happy, well adjusted young adults. I am making a living as a teacher and a writer, and I’m not stressed out about work at all. Every day I walk down to the beach with my ukulele and the dog and let her play in the waves – and I play my uke on the beach, sometimes alone and sometimes with all of my uke playing friends.

We make trips to San Francisco often, and usually stay at the Seal Rock Inn which overlooks the Cliff House and Land’s End – or we stay at Melissa’s house in Twin Peaks. I always travel down Highway 1 to get to San Francisco because who’s in a hurry?

Although I do have to teach at certain times, I’m pretty much free to do what I want and go wherever I want – I can always make ukulele jam get togethers and acoustic jams, and of course, there’s always time to sit and write.

If I want to take a nap in the middle of the day, I do it – lying down on a hammock in my lovely backyard.

Of course, I have a wonderful dependable car that never causes any problems at all – a BMW that gets me to where I want to go in no time at all, a zippy little car with all the bells and whistles anyone could want. Sweet car!

I’ve already published a book and another one is coming out soon. I’ve got it made in the shade, oh yeah! I’m going on a book tour soon with my ukulele so I can play music, sing and read from my writings. Life is really good – there’s always someone at the house to take care of the animals, and my daughter is so incredibly responsible. I trust her totally and completely. Oh and how can I forget my wonderful, hot loving boyfriend who is always there for me? He even travels with me and pays his own way and everything!


As I sit here and listen to Beatles music, I smile – thinking of how my life could have been, wondering if I truly would have changed the path if I could have.

I live in a one-bedroom apartment in Sunnyvale off El Camino with my incorrigible 18-year-old daughter Megan. She needs to get her act together and finish high school – and get a job of course. Our little dog likes to bark at everyone that walks by our apartment, and I had to leave her alone today because Megan’s off gallivanting around in Monterey, or Santa Cruz – not sure where. And she doesn’t want to come home. Not that I blame her, but still.

My little car overheated on the way to Sacramento for no apparent reason and the last time we lived in a house was when we lived in Oregon – but it was a sort of run-down house on a cul-de-sac just outside Salem, Oregon.

Mom passed away back in 1997 when the older kids were teenagers and Megan was only four, right before I fled from Oregon and moved back down to California with all of my kids – driving a piece of crap old Chevy Cavalier car that my son’s friend had given us – that was after the last car had broken down before that one.

We ended up having to move several times to dodge the high rents in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one time just because there were too many teenagers hanging around my place. There were always too many teenagers hanging around my place.

Now here I sit listening to Beatles music, wondering where Megan is and if Jen will be okay – that’s Jeremy’s girlfriend. She was so stressed out about the pregnancy and moving that she went on disability and she’s having a rough time. Now that my older daughter Melissa is getting a job, will she be able to start paying me back? Will she be able to pay off that bail bond I still get phone calls for because apparently they have my name and number?

Death - Jackie Davis-Martin

In general...there's no point in writing hopeless novels. We all know we're going to die; what's important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this.
-Anne Lamott

Claire didn’t know what kind of woman she would be in the face of death. She hadn’t thought about it. It was even an odd consideration, later. I will be strong. I will be the sort of person whom others will marvel at. I will be private.

Anne Lamott was more likely referring to the characteristics one exhibited facing one’s own death. And, more likely, she was using death as a metaphor for crisis or catastrophe, or the “trouble” that the character faces. And in a story it’s not death that’s important, it’s the character’s reaction. Will she be noble? Will she be a mess?

Claire was a writer, one who had dodged real death in stories, substituting instead some other crisis—money, sexual tension, even, as she got more philosophical, the meaning of life, of certain actions one would take. Some of her friends wrote stories where family hovered at bedsides, or consulted anxiously with doctors. A few had near-death experiences, of high risk.

In these stories, the risky people survived to tell the tale. The family dealt with the bravery of the old man or the old woman who had lived a long and meaningful life and spoken something important at the end.

They could all discuss the reality of what had been written.

What happened, though, was that death came to Claire, and Claire had to face it. She didn’t know that facing it showed what kind of woman she was one way or the other. Take today, for instance, a small anniversary of that death. If she were writing about it, or re-creating such an event, she would certainly substitute something other than the golden sky outside her windows, the light tingeing the houses on high hilltops, sun glinting from windows like the spangles on the dance costumes both she and her daughter loved. She wouldn’t use that detail, though, because it didn’t fit the sadness she felt.

In a story she would have her character stand at the window and marvel that the beauty of the sky turning pink and blue and gold was still hers, that the birds’ chirping was comforting, something to truly listen to, and therefore of great value. She would have her character note the majesty of the lighted pillars in the garden across the street, the lights lighting the light of day just breaking, the stillness and silence of a day not quite under way.

In reality hers—Claire’s—was underway and, although she looked out the window at these things, she looked past her daughter’s pictures, and thought two things: Who was she? And why isn’t she here? Mostly she thought, Is it possible, really? Claire’s character wouldn’t mention that she couldn’t bear to look at those pictures, nor bear to remove them, since such wavering would show unsteadiness. People who looked for ready themes would pounce on that: denial. Claire disliked ready themes, exhibiting, at times, another of them: anger.

None of these behaviors was pretty, or of high character.

She’d pour herself another cup of coffee, strong and black and halved with milk, and write what she was trying to understand of life and death.

Anne Lamott. Claire didn’t know anything about Anne Lamott. What had she endured? But a writer didn’t have to endure, first hand. The writer’s job was to imagine.

And imagining, pretending, was the reality that made sense. Claire could pretend to be Claire, for instance. She would be brave because people liked to be with others who were brave, who were gay, who showed strength of character.

The other characters would like Claire better, feel more at ease, if she became a character, and not her true self. They’d like her better if they didn’t truly know the importance of what she was going through; they’d prefer her character to show strength in the face of this.



The Place Where She's Most Uncomfortable - Elizabeth Weld Nolan

I am visiting the house of a stranger. The couch and chairs in the living room are covered with plastic made to fit their yellow contours. Doilies and coasters cover each little table where family photos stand at attention in their upright frames.

A purple and black portrait of Jesus over the fireplace shows him hanging from the cross in a drawing that could be taken from a graphic novel, so lurid are the colors. The only cabinet holds china dishes and a collection of girl dolls, their little bow mouths bright red against their white faces. They are dressed in long gowns of another century. The legs of the furniture stand in little cups on the pale carpet.

I press my knees, clad in blue pants, together. My ankle bones touch. Then I notice: There are no books. Not one. No, there is one. A large Bible with a white leather cover, sits on a round table by itself on top of a lace runner. I smile at my hostess, the mother of my college roommate who is rebelling against everything. I have been listening to her for a year, and I see, in this, my first visit to her house, that with all her opinions and philosophical rants, she has told me nothing about her family.

``I don’t usually invite people,’’ she had said in our dorm room, pulling on her (illegal) cigarette.

``Thank you, Mrs. Whickett, for having me,’’ I say.

``We’re glad to have you, dear,’’ she says. ``We’re so curious about Mary’s friends from college. So you’re from Massachusetts?’’

``Yes, ma’am. The Boston area.’’

``What church do you go to there?’’ She looks excited and a flush comes across her pale cheeks.

``The Unitarian Church. I helped run the Sunday School in high school.’’

``Sunday School!’’ She looks pleased and glances at Mary who lounges (or slips off the plastic?) on an armchair. ``Do you read Scripture with the children?’’

``Well,’’ I shift on my own plastic, ``we make sure they know the Bible stories.’’

``The New Testament?’’

``Both,’’ I say. ``We study all religions.’’

``Unity Church, did you say?’’

``No, Unitarian. We believe in one Creator. That’s why that name.’’ She sits up straighter. I think she’s actually wearing a corset under her flowered dress. It’s hard to believe she’s the mother of my casual roommate or that my intellectually voracious friend came from this house.

``Do you take Jesus for your Savior?’’ she asks sternly, suspecting the worst. She’s right.

``Well, not exactly,’’ I say, realizing I’m about to go over the edge. ``We believe he was a great teacher and historical figure.’’

``Oh my dear,’’ she says, ``let me help you understand the truth.’’ She reaches for the Bible and opens it. Mary sits up quickly.

``Mother,’’ she says, ``we have to go out. We’ll be back for dinner.’’ She stands and signals me.

``Uh – thank you, Mrs. Whickett. See you later.’’ As we go out the front door, I go limp with relief .

``Did I do all right?’’ I ask.

``Great,’’ she says and grins at me. I can see we are not going to talk about this, and that we never will. ``Let’s go to the movies.’’

She puts her arm through mine, and we swing into the freedom of the fresh winter air.

The Place Where He's Most Uncomfortable - Maria Robinson

It was Stan's second full day in Tel Aviv. He'd woken up in the middle of the night and walked into a wall. He smashed right into the reality that he was not at home in New York on West Side Drive. Miriam had screamed when she heard the thud and turned on the bedside light. " Stan, Stan, are you alright? You're in Israel, Stan". Stan had found his way to the toilet and she could hear with sound of a light fountain. Holding him by the forearm, she ushered back into the unfamiliar bed in his wife's 'sabbatical" apartment.

The Place Where He's Most Uncomfortable - Francisco Mora

At the top of a hill, the lane next to the taxi was moving in a steady stream. The taxi waited, twenty cars away from the light in the left-hand turn, waiting for a covered green. In the taxi, Jason turned to look looked at the cars flowing by. His thinking entered into that momentary disorientation that happens when you look at a moving and stationary object simultaneously. He didn’t say it, would he, he couldn’t know without saying something, or would that send the cabbie into rage like the one yesterday? Jason would be late though, and they would say ‘you’re always late’. He hates that but slightly less than sitting in a cab that’s going to be late and not making a suggestion he knows without doubt would make them early.

Jason’s thought had to, so it did get out, “you know, it’s a lot faster if you go straight here and turn left up at El Dorado a couple blocks because,”

“But you can get stuck right there in this intersection if someone crosses the street. That’s why I didn’t go that way.”

That’s true. But how many people walk in LA? He didn’t say it.

“You’re the boss, man, I’ll go straight, no problem.”

“It’s your call, really. I’m always open to new ways of getting around to avoid jams, which you guys always how to do.”

Jason stared and tried to focus on the poster behind the passenger seat in front of him of local restaurants in Silverlake and Los Feliz near downtown. The driver wasn’t unfriendly, assertive maybe. However, the exchange was enough to make Jason’s neck automatically go into spasms–side effects of chemotherapy on the brain’s command center. Then the neck and the shoulders started.

The cab reactivated Jasons’ authoritative personality and his prowess as a fine driver, professionally trained, to race cars and motorcycles for the fun of it. Driving performance was something Jason had taken for granted until illness made him dependent on other drivers and taxis. Come to think of it, though, taxis might not be the place where he is most uncomfortable.

He thought about the joke with his wife, that the worst part of the chemo sessions (even the surgeries to get tumors out of the neck and the hips) wasn’t the feeling of black substrate moving in his veins instead of nourishing red blood. (That river of void.) The worst thing was dealing with his father’s driving, that lurching tank plodding out of Cedars-Sinai. That broke all records. They had to break the arrangement made when Jason was twenty-four, that Jason would always drive, to avoid disastrous clashes. Dad, according to Jason, used the brakes more than the gas, and created dangerous situations—which wasn’t true.

Keeping it Clean - Bonnie Smetts

Shadows dancing across his office wall had caught Dr. Sarin’s eye. He stared out the window at the trees whipped by the wind. His hand ran over the familiar grain of his wood desk and remembered his wife’s back and the shape of her spine. A year is along time to miss someone. He missed her company. Why hadn’t he been tenderer toward her. He remembered caressing the thickness of her legs and running his hands over the smooth firmness of her face.

Papers out of order on the far edge of his desk caught his eye and interrupted his memories. The sun shown on the sheets and without thinking he patted them into a stack. He moved the jar that held his pencils just to the right distance from the papers. He moved the blotter to align with the warn edge of the desk. He slid back from the desk.

His bookcase, he’d neglected his bookcase filled with titles from school and everything since. He’d added titles without thinking where they might best go. Someone had shoved several books on top of the ordered ones, horizontal stripes of color fighting the rhythm of the rest. He set about making order, moving one and then another, and then moving one and another again. It was like a game, like one of those games his friends played when they met. Chess or whatever they called it. Move here and move there. Keep the black markers one the white squares, or whatever they did.

It occurred to him that he might like to join them. He usually sat to the side and talked and enjoyed smoking with his friends. Rearranging. Would it be about arranging and rearranging? He pulled two books from the shelf and set them on the edge of the desk. They were of no interest to him. He must find someone to whom they would be.

Keeping it Clean - Arilia Winn

If you're not a very clean person no one will want to marry you
If your room is not clean no one will want to marry you
If you don't have a white smile, no one will want to marry you
If you don't have a small waist no one will want to marry you
If you can't cook, no one will want to marry you
If you can't get pregnant, no one will want to marry you
If you can't remember to shower and stay fresh, no one will want to marry you.
If you don't remember to be polite, no one will want to marry you.

No one will ever want to marry you. Break any of these laws and you will be just like the rest of the women in this world, a bunch of belligerents.

Madam Ceri was the toughest of all. I didn't realize it at the time but all of here if this no one this nonsense, made sense.
It was her job to set us straight, and she did.

I'm 25 now and I always make sure that I stay clean and look nice. One day I want someone to marry me.

Keeping it Clean - E. D. James

The stainless steel table gleamed beneath the bright examination room lights. The cranes body was stretched out in the center. It’s feathers gleamed from the cleaning it had been given when it was brought in from the field. The cranes body appeared shrunken to Olivia. She couldn’t tell if it was because it had lost weight due to its illness or if it was merely fact that its death had emptied it of the vitality of life. She photographed the body from several angles, focusing especially on the areas around the cranes beak and anus that were reddened by some unknown irritant.

After she had finished photographing the basic condition of the body she pulled on a mask and latex. She lay the crane on its back and positioned the light so that its breast and torso were brightly illuminated. She picked up a scalpel from the table to her right and then paused for a moment with blade just above the feathers. There was something about cutting into a wild creatures body that always disturbed Olivia. She knew it was irrational. She would chop a roasted chicken with a cleaver without flinching. She loved carving a turkey, carefully cutting the breast meat from the bone and separating the drumstick and thigh with a knife that cut through the tendons and popped the joint of bones apart. But there was something about violating the body of an creature that had been wild and free that was different from preparing a domesticated animal for dinner.

She slit the bird from the neck to the anus, laying it open. She used towels that she placed along its sides to keep its blood from dripping onto the floor. She reached into the body cavity and carefully felt each of the major organs. As she worked her way from the heart and lungs down to the gizzard and intestine she moved from a place where she was wondering why the bird had died to wondering how it stayed alive for so long. The digestive tract was looked as if it had been eaten away by some microscope swarm of piranha.

Something Illegal - Judy Albietz

This afternoon my 2 ½ year old grandson announced, Bubbe, come on … time to take a nap. Read some books.” So, for the next half hour, we read about robots, penguins and trucks. He helped me turn the pages. He filled in some of the words since he remembered the story from last time. Then he wanted us to sing some of the Beatles and Peter, Paul and Mary songs we sang this morning while he ate his oatmeal. He finally settled on his personal favorite, Puff the Magic Dragon. He has most of the words memorized, particularly the part about painted wings and giant rings making way for other toys. His parents told me they aren’t wild about his learning this song. It truly is from a generation they don’t understand. They said they think the song is about pot. They’ve got it all wrong. It’s about a dragon and the little boy who was his friend and how the boy grew up and how the dragon missed his friend so much that he had no choice but to sadly slip into his cave. “Bubbe, what happened to the magic dragon?”

I started to tell him that the dragon was still there, in the cave, waiting for his friend to come back and play with him. But then I saw he’d fallen asleep. He had his bear tucked under his chest and he was hanging onto my little finger. I was glad I could wait for another day to answer his question at least with a partial truth.

Keeping it Clean - Jennifer Baljko

Rosa leaned in the doorway and watched Oriol take out all the silverware from the drawer closest to the sink. He piled the soupspoons, butter knives, forks, and scissors on the countertop, and then took out the plastic container that housed them and placed it on the table. She watched him dampen a paper towel with a spot of soap, and begin the meticulous task of cleaning out the crumbs that may have slipped into the tray these last days.

Oriol had mannerisms neither of them could explain. Some sort of obsessive-compulsive behavior he had inherited from his grandfather, his mother had once told him long ago when he was still a boy. Rosa hadn’t seen many of those traits in her husband, only tiny slivers of oddities in all their years together. Nothing special had raised flags before. But, since the accident, Rosa noticed with alarmingly frequency how instinctively the ticks would suddenly show up. Keeping the silverware drawer clean, for instance, had now become an almost daily pre-occupation. Ten years ago, the poor man didn’t even know which slot held which utensil; Rosa would often find knives in the fork slot after Oriol tried to “help” her in the kitchen.

“So much stress weighing his heart down,” she thought sadly. She sighed quietly. Rosa knew better to interrupt his routine, to sour his mood. She wrung the dishtowel she was holding, and slipped out the kitchen, leaving her husband alone with his mental fixations.

Something Illegal - Christa Fairfield

A nest egg. Yeah that’s what she needed. But unless she was willing to buy a gun and doing something illegal, Vi didn’t see that in her future. And, with her luck she would hold up a 7-11 immediately after their money drop or a bank with an AARP tour of retired FBI agents.

Sitting on the increasingly heated bench, popping gum wads off the sidewalk with the tips of her new Vince Camuto sandels, she concided that maybe she should have bought a cheaper used car and kept some money for car insurance. She should have known that a UPS truck would back up over her precious car fourteen days after driving it off the lot. Who wouldn’t expect such a thing.

“You need to be prepared for the unexpected, Violet.” Her father had told her the night before as she sat drinking the last glass of white zinfandel on her parents four-by-four cement back patio.

“Spect your right, dad,” Vi slurred tipping back the last of the wine and licking her licks. “But right now, I think I’ll go to bed,” she pushed the white molded chair back and dislodged herself, “and dream of better unexpected things.”

Last Minutes with ODEN

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

I know that our time is coming. Sally is showing her age in so many ways. If I could do anything to avoid the inevitable, I would do it, but I know it would be for me and not for her.  I know I can't have her in pain, so when the time comes, we'll do what we have to do. Watch the video, have a little (big) sob, and hug your pets.

G-d is certainly with us.

In addition to the commandment, we must remember everyday the Exodus from Egypt, there is another commandment, to remember every day the splitting of the Reed Sea.

The fact that everyone is commanded to remember these two historical occurrences tells us, that the lessons gleaned from these episodes must be eternal and relevant to all people at all times.

When the Israelites were being pursued by the Egyptians after the Exodus, as they stood before the Reed Sea, there were four camps of thought what to do next. One group said we must jump in the water and commit suicide, another group said we should turn back to Egypt and surrender once again as slaves, another group said we should fight the Egyptians, and another group said we should pray to G-d.

Moses, told them however, you must march forward. Nachshon, the son of Aminadav from the tribe of Judah, did exactly that. He proved himself to be a leader with courage and advanced forward into the water. Only when the water reached his nostrils, and G-d saw his self sacrifice and commitment did the water split for all the Israelites to pass through on dry land.

What possible lesson can all of us derive from this story?

In life, many times we may feel cornered. We have the waters of confusion and difficulties in front of us, and the Egyptians are pursuing us from behind. We feel we are between a rock and a hard place. At that time, there may be four different ways that a person may respond to these circumstances.

You may feel like you just want to jump into the water of spirituality, or something else to bury your head in the sand, as long as you can separate yourself from dealing with reality. Another approach may be, where you come to your own conclusion, based on your own logic, that perhaps the best thing is to stand up for your rights and fight the enemy head on. Another approach may be, where you submit to your responsibilities in a manner where you feel forced like a slave to your duties, and another approach may be, to pray to G-d and leave it in his hands. After all, everything G-d does is for the good, so why not just sit back and wait for everything to work out for the good.

Moses, who received the word from G-d, tells us, that for most of us and for most of the times, all of these four approaches are incorrect. Hiding from reality and dodging the issues is certainly not going to make things happen. Nothing good happens without effort. Doing things entirely only because they make sense to us without using guidance from G-ds word, leaves a person exposed to the limitations of human logic. Doing things and feeling forced, will never bring the best out of person. Only when we find enjoyment in what we do, can we flourish, and simply praying to G-d is not what G-d wants. We are told to make an effort through natural means in all that we pray for.

The correct thing to do when faced with pressures, the way that will bring the best for ourselves and the world, is to proceed forward confidently in the complete knowledge, faith, and trust that we are moving ahead in compliance with G-ds directives, and therefore, we are not alone. G-d is certainly with us, and we are granted the strength to forge forward regardless of the difficulties that appear before us. This commitment to keep on moving, will always eventually split the sea if that’s necessary to reach our G-dly goals.

Freedom of the mind

Once, there was a beggar who would drag himself for apartment building to apartment building, climbing the stairs and knocking on all the doors, for a few pennies. Oh, how he wished there where elevators in those buildings, so life could be a little easier for him. One day, a friend sees him and asks him, “What would you do if you won the million dollar lottery?” To which he answered in the blink of an eye, “I would install elevators in all those buildings so life could be a little easier for me when I go begging.”

You see, this beggar had a poor man’s mentality, so even when he would win the money, and he was a millionaire, he could only think in terms of his begging.

Passover, is described as the season of our freedom. “In every generation and every day a person must see himself liberated from Egypt”. In Hebrew, the word for Egypt can be understood as constraints and limitations. This season, specifically by eating the special hand baked shmurah matza, and drawing lessons from the story of the exodus, we are granted the special opportunity to liberate ourselves from the many internal limitations and constraints imposed by the inner Pharaoh.

Inside each one of us there is a positive G-dly force, and an evil taskmaster, interested in controlling and directing us in self-destructive ways. Many times he succeeds to subdue the good, so it is suppressed and not allowed to flourish and express itself.

Comes the Hagadah-the Passover story, and tells us, there are three most important elements that must be considered in the process of liberation, and they are, Pesach Matza and Marror.

Pesach means, to Passover. To uplift oneself above the circumstances they find themselves in. We don’t always have to confront head on our challenges. Many times lifting ourselves above the situation, helps us see our problems from an overall, all-encompassing perspective.

Matza represent humility, since the matza is flat and not blown up like the ego of bread. As big as a person’s ego may be, in the end it is his own bubble, separate from anyone else. Humility, allows a person to connect to others, and it is only with the help of others a person is able to truly expand and move forward in life.

Marror is the bitter herbs. Recognizing, that difficulties are always part of the mix as an ingredient to grow, and is part of the freedom process. The only way a person can bring the best out of themselves is through hardships and challenges. Difficulties is G-ds way of telling a person, “I put you exactly where you are, because I know it is only through this experience and journey you will reach, a better destination in life.”

Passover, when practiced in the correct manner, by being careful not to come in contact with any leavened food, grants us this power of freedom for the rest of the year. A great mystic, the Arizal teaches, anyone who is careful not to have any leavened products around them for Passover, is guaranteed not to sin inadvertently for the entire coming year.

Best wishes to all for a Happy and Kosher Passover. May we all merit to absorb the tremendous strength granted during this Holiday.

Fashion Affair

I'll be joining on #FashionAffair on 29th of April 2011 at Plaza Indonesia atrium Level 4 along with 6 gorgeous Indonesian fashion bloggers! Do come, I'm inviting YOU & bring your friends too, it's open for public :)

- Diana Rikasari
- Dewi Utari
- Heidy Kalalo
- June Paski
- Cindy Biantoro
- Hanna Faridl
- Fifi Alvianto
- Fashion Coaching Clinic by Dewi Utari & Fira Basuki
- Fashion Show by Trunk & OnlyI
- Performance by my band @SYNDICATE__ & Adhitia Sofyan!

See ya there! :) Xx

China Tea Report 2011

I have recently returned from a 2-week trip to China, including Shanghai, Suzhou, Zhangjiajie (Hunan), and Beijing. My last trip to China was a 6-month adventure in 2006-2007, and I must note that much has changed since then. My purpose here is to highlight some of the major changes I noticed in the tea markets.

Store appearance
First, stores have become prettier, even in the wholesale markets like Tianshan in Shanghai and Maliandao in Beijing. On my last trip, maybe 1 in 20 stores had really great decoration, and by this I mean traditional, carved wood furniture, wood floors, hung framed paintings and/or calligraphy, decorative urns and bric-a-brac, and the like. Now, perhaps 7 of 10 stores in Shanghai and at least 1 of 2 stores in Beijing had invested heavily in their decoration.

Now tea stores strive for a unique character where before they appeared like photocopies of one another. For example, one might have all lacquered furniture and frames, while another might be going for a rustic look, while another goes for an ethnic minority look, and yet another looks more Japanese in decoration.

Some of them are quite beautifully done. One had large low urns filled with koi fish and big light wood bench tables, carved antique (or distressed) bookshelves and display cabinets, and calligraphic scrolls and brush paintings of substantial size. Dotting the shelving were display stones--some water-weathered, hole-ridden large chunks of rock and others slices of marble whose color pattern implied a mountain scene.

Others yet are quite tacky. I recall one store with wax-resist indigo fabrics and tin Miao minority jewelry, a theme that could have worked if done more sparsely with costumes and jewelry of better execution, and without a folding card table and an ugly laminate floor.

But still, stores are striving for uniqueness and (finally!) using decoration to craft the ambient mood they want to associate with their brand. This made walking around the tea malls more visually interesting than ever.

Previously one found only cheap mass-produced porcelain alongside yixing teawares of a great varying quality. Only one or two stores in 2006-2007 in Shanghai had longquan and other kinds of Celadon, some produced locally and much imported from Korea. But now, increasing business ties with Taiwan has effected a great change in the teaware being sold in China.

Foremost noticeable are Japanese tetsubin tea kettles, a Taiwanese affect formerly unknown in China. Now, nearly every store sells them, all of them claiming them to be antique (rusted means antique!) and selling them for upwards of 10,000 rmb (currently approximately US$1,500). Many of the better decorated stores also had one or two silver kettles and teapots of Japanese make. The tetsubin, now ubiquitous in China, can even be found at on the blankets of Beijing's famous Panjiayuan ("the dirt market"), an "antique" market featuring stalls, tables, and blanket sellers of various new, antique, and reproduction items such as ceramics, cast bronze, wood items, jade, and the like. I even saw a new breed of Taiwanese-made testubin, which is lined with some other silver metal and made to a very different aesthetic, including some external enamel and more rough surface patterns.

Another Taiwanese import, literally, are Taiwanese ceramics. In particular, Taiwanese-style matte celadon wares, although some porcelain as well. Many teaware shops now sell these, and a few even specialize in Taiwan wares.

Yixing teapots have become larger, overall. I do not know why this is, but I speculate two possible reasons: more wealth has meant more teapot collectors, who buy larger pots, or more wealth means casual tea drinkers can buy into traditional tea items, but they need them larger. Good quality xiao pin ("small product") Yixing teapots of 100ml or less were uncommon before, and are now a rare find in teapot shops.

Higher quality hand-painted Jingdezhen qinghua and fencai/doucai porcelain have finally expanded beyond Jiangsu and Shanghai and are now found in Beijing and even Hunan province. Overall, this expansion of the availability of good porcelain echoes the larger trend of better, finer teaware being more readily available.

Lastly, nearly every store now uses the gourd filters, where a small dry double gourd ("hulu") is halved lengthwise and a small nylon circle stitched into a hole cut into the bottom of the larger half of the gourd, the smaller half becoming the handle. Many teaware stores around China sold this type of filter in 2006-2007, but at that time teashops still used metal or porcelain filters.

Pu'er is no longer the most trendy tea in China. In 2006-2007, every tea shop in China had pu'er, and most had a lot of it. Even in Xiamen city in South Fujian, home of Anxi tieguanyin oolong, most tea shops stocked as much pu'er as they did the local favorite iron goddess and variants. Now, in Beijing and Shanghai's markets, every store still carries pu'er, but most non-pu'er specialty stores now carry only a few. Where before every store carried Dayi, Xiaguan, Haiwan, or Mengku teas and perhaps 2 to 4 other brands, stores have moved away from the large pu'er factories and into smaller brands. This is true of both pu'er specialty and non-pu'er specialty tea shops.

In fact, tea from these four brands was somewhat difficult to find on this trip; MarshalN has suggested to me that many of these larger factory stores have relocated out of the wholesale markets and into nicer locations. I had hoped to taste the 2011 productions from these factories, but none were to be had:

  1. By the time I found a Mengku store in Beijing, it was closing. I could not find one in Shanghai.
  2. The Haiwan stores did not have 2011 productions.
  3. The Xiaguan stores only had 2011 tuo, no cakes.
  4. Dayi stores did not have 2011 productions. Only one store had 2011's rabbit year, 7542, and 0532 cakes. They would not let us taste them, saying so little had been released to them that they couldn't spare a cake for people to taste. They literally had one display cake and one tong to sell.

This is pretty big news, and the message is that collectors, the drivers of the pu'er market, have slowed their buying and factories are responding accordingly by making fewer productions and making them less available. [By collector, I mean someone who buys teas by the jian (6 to 12 tong, 42 to 84 cakes) and holds onto them to resell at a markup when aged]. Relying on the old trick of artificial scarcity to keep prices up, factories are trying to weather what I think is a dry spell in collecting caused by collectors owning piles of pu'er they know they can't sell yet, while Chinese tea drinking trends have moved on.

This has been a longstanding market evaluation held by me and other pu'er fans: at some point, pu'er has to be sold cake by cake to people who actually drink the tea. Each cake lasts upwards of 6 months. Every 20,000-cake production is 10,000 years or more of tea. Even assuming hundreds of thousands of dedicated pu'er drinkers, the literal millions of cakes held by collectors certainly represent a vast oversupply. Like any collectable, the longterm value of pu'er to collectors depends on the strength of the secondary market, and it might be scaring collectors to note that tea trends are changing.

Chinese tea fad followers have moved onto two other teas: fenghuang dancong and gongfu black tea. Every shop now sells at least one or two dancong teas, usually in those sold in rustic, paper-wrapped blocks. Even in the remote outpost of Zhangjiajie city, Hunan province, the vendors of tieguanyin and heicha all had paper-wrapped dancong on the shelves. Beijing and Shanghai tea markets now have stores specializing entirely in this tea, once rarely found outside the Pearl River basin.

Moreso in Shanghai, but to some degree in Beijing, gongfu black tea had tea vendors talking. China's black tea can be roughly classified into two types: lower grade black teas such as zhengshan xiaozhong (lapsang), jiu qiu hong mei, yixing black, etc., and higher grade "gongfu" black teas such as tanyang gongfu, bailin gongfu, jin jun mei, etc. Gongfu black tea has come into vogue, with fairytales of tea producers venturing into untamed forests to harvest buds from wild trees--sound familiar? This is the same romantic idea many pu'er fans have, imagining hiking up misty mountains to hunt tea trees, stumbling across the mossy-trunked ancient relatives perhaps first harvested hundreds of years ago by wandering medicine men and local tribes.

One last surprise: you can find aged pu'er almost everywhere in China now. Pu'er specialty stores now stock traditionally stored cakes from the 80s, 90s, and 00s, even in places like Beijing, where markets previously saw anything but the driest stored teas as undrinkable and unhealthy. Their tunes have clearly changed, and these teas run into the many hundreds of US dollars, perhaps 2 to 5 times their market price in Guangdong and Hong Kong, assuming bargaining the vendor's price down.

Final notes
It fascinated me to see how much had changed in 4-5 years. While many other features of China appeared unchanged since my last visit, the tea markets indicated a substantial development and evolution of the Chinese tea consumer.

If you have any questions or curiosities about what tea is like in China at the moment, feel free to post them in the comments section. I will give whatever answer I can.

Errors at Vital Tea Leaf

After reading a news piece online about a vendor called Vital Tea Leaf, I visited their site and found a few...let's call them "errors" to assume the the listed ages of their pu'er teas. I wrote the following letter via their contact us page:
There are some significant errors in your pu'er catalog regarding the ages you approximate for your teas.
Qiang Ming "Yiwu Zhengshan" - 2002, you say "15-20 years"
Pingxiwangfu - 2006, you say "12 years"
Ruipinhao "Qiu Xiang" - 2008, you say "5 years"
It's important to have credibility and build customer trust when selling teas that are so often faked and misrepresented. I would appreciate it if you would work to that end and correct these errors.
Also, many of the cakes you list have broken picture links. With such short descriptions, it's difficult to have any idea what tea you're selling.
I have not heard back.

It's disheartening to see such errors nowadays, when all one needs is a dictionary and Chinese auction sites to get some idea of a (post CNNP) pu'er's age. Even if I assume Vital Tea Leaf bought these teas believing the ages their supplier indicated, my opinion is that they don't select pu'er well and/or that they probably didn't pay the right price for it.

Also, the Ruipinhao and Pingxiwangfu cakes probably have date stamps on them. This is equivalent to seeing a website selling a 2007 Bordeaux wine as a 2001--when the bottle says 2007.

So, as always, buyer beware. Choose your pu'er vendors carefully, and do your own research.

Ride, fix flat, ride, coffee, ride, ride...

This is a post for Matt, only due to the fact that he is rapidly approaching his day of birth for 2011.

Went for a cruise this morning, I wanted to do a huge ride but my lingering mucous-face meant that I was leaving a snot-spiderweb trailing from my face onto whoever was riding behind me (very non-delightful). So Aidos and I went for a bunya cruise and met Matt, hit some singletrack up, went over to Ironbark, rode some singletrack.

Hammered down ballbreaker (my favourite track) and Matt somehow flatted, the hubbard. He then proceeded to try and put a 26" tube in his Niner, which was cactus. we used up four canisters by the time he ripped that tube out and used my appropriately-sized 29" tube. Sensible me.

A true hubbard-L Ron Hubbard. This is what people with no bike skills,
or those that wear neon lycra and have helmet mirrors look like.
 We were on a wide fireroad, and Aido had layed his bike down to assist, and up rode a group of riders. as it was a wide fireroad, nine out of the ten riders rode around us as we said 'hi!'. Except this one fellow, that reminded me of a rude customer that clicks his fingers to gain the attention of a waiter. This fellow looked at me, looked at the bike, and with a snarl of disdain motioned sideways with his had for us to get the bike out of the way.

Not sure about you, but considering the speed of sub 10km/hr those guys were going, I would have probably just ridden around. But it was pretty funny all in all. MTB attitude 101.

Such a non-event, and not really blog-worthy....but just the act of writing a blog means you can write about uneventful drivel, dose it not? The coffee that we had at Samford post-tube incident, and the ride up the Scout Hut-Bygott's road berg to Ironbark then back to Bunya was definitely worth a mention.

Even if the 14kg demo bike is really sub-optimal at this stage. Who knows, maybe i'll be super speedy up the climbs on my new 2x10, sub-10keg beast?

Just need to sort out those corners...

Meanwhile, Willow Koerber, USA MTB machine, is out for the rest of the year with a fast-growing baby tumor. Sure does defeat the myth about copious amounts of exercise being an effective contraceptive. Wonder how London is looking for Willow with a due date in December??

Easter Long Weekend and Post

Kerry and I went hiking on Friday. We took Linus and his baby soft paws out with us. He runs so much he wears spots off his pads. We need to toughen him up. We stopped for a few photos here, you can see all of Kelowna from here. And Big and Little White. Maybe even Vernon. 
 This poor dog! He is such a loose runner, the ears, the tongue, if I saw this running towards me and I didn't know him, I'd be scared out of my tree.
 We stopped here for a photo shot so that I'd have something to put in my Project Life album. Linus was so bagged that he couldn't stay in a seated position.
 There were millions of red ants out. We saw this ant hill on our way back to civilization. By the way, thank goodness for cell phones and Black Berry Messaging. We sort of got lost. We knew where we wanted to be, back at the van, but when we went down that path behind me in the picture above, well, we were too far to the right of where we should have been and so Michelle got a play by play. Although she said if there were bugs, one of which got in my eye, and squirrels, she would not come out and find us, she'd send help. I didn't tell her about the red ant hill.
 Michelle also told us that we should have bannock for our treat after our hike. And after getting lost, we figured we earned a few bannocks. One was for my dad.
 One day last week I had tried to make grilled cheese sandwiches in my Analon pan. It was the most expensive pan I have ever bought and I have to say it wasn't the best one. It's been on it's way out but having the buttered bread of the grilled cheese stick to the pan was the last straw. On the weekend, mom and I went out and I came home with a new pan. So far, it's been awesome, angels sing when I use it. Or maybe that's just the sound of me sobbing because nothing sticks to this pan. I made Philly Cheesesteaks for the first time and they were given the Emily seal of approval.
 The next day, I made pannekoeks. I had brunch out with Michelle earlier in the week and we decided we should try to find a recipe. All of the recipes found were pretty vague. Flour, eggs, salt and enough water/milk to make it runny. They got the two thumbs up from everyone except me. I found them a tad bland. But the pan! I told Kerry if I wasn't already married, I'd marry that pan.
 The kids, being as old as they are, were given the choice to do the Easter hunt or not. They chose not to but they still wanted the goods. So the bunny left their buckets on the dining room table. A tad uneventful. So I made them all go out for family photos.  Linus was too cool yet again.
 Sally is always the best poser in the family. She loves the camera.
 Which is why I get these types of photos. I can just hear her! "Is it my turn, MOM, is it?"
 And it wouldn't be Easter with out an egg hunt, Kerry found a quail's next in the hedge. 15 eggs. Poor mom. Although I have a feeling the little babies won't last long with the 5 plus cats that have been in our yard lately. I don't want quail eating all my baby carrots and spinach but I'd rather have that than all the neighbours' cats using the garden as a litter box. Kerry says it's the circle of life, I thought he might start singing the Lion King song.

 Later on, the momma came back and it's hard to see her, but right in the middle is rectangular spot of light, right on her head. I couldn't believe that little bird could spread her body over all 15 of those eggs.
The kids didn't complain too much when I made them sit for a few photos. I was totally disgusted when I  looked at them and found not one single picture was good enough. Kerry had model face. Shaun had sideways eyes, Emily was looking down. I was snapping my fingers. The dogs, well, they had places to be.
So I made them go back out and do re-takes. And this time, we left the dogs in side, they are actually standing at the screen door behind us. And the kids got serious because now they had places they wanted to be. I'm so happy to get a decent family picture that I will overlook Kerry's Tower of Terror t-shirt. Seriously though, he's only got Subaru or Disney clothes.
I hope everyone had a great Easter!


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"Resurrection of Christ"
Pietro Perugino
ca. 1499

May 2011: Love Out Of Lust.

Yeay! The photos above are from Riots Barbie's new collection! :D and check out Riots Barbie's new site, we moved and now get ready to shop easier + new tumblr ;) And, HAPPY EASTER!