Monday, February 28, 2011


I am afraid of snakes.

I am afraid of large bodies of water.

I am afraid of things in large bodies of water. Especially fish or other large things in the body of water - like ships.

What I am NOT afraid of, is making mistakes.

I am quite happy to **ck up once in a while. Ok, more than once in a while.

I figure: "So what?" I got smarts, I got know-how, I got the ability to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. I don't know all the answers but I'm willing to ask the questions and to never quit learning.

Do you know what kinds of people have made the most mistakes? The most successful ones. I learned this lesson first in a way that was real to me, from reading the autobiography of Richard Branson, Losing My Virginity. The man lived on the edge. He was willing to lose everything to gain something significant. He compromised on details but never on his dreams or his vision.

In this cultural environment of austerity and sacrifice, I fear that we are losing the gumption, the BALLS, to strive for more in our life.

Many of us have lost real and important things - jobs and houses being the most obvious - with real and sad consequences. But I worry that our generation has lost a lot more than that: the drive to push boundaries, to do great things, and the tolerance for risk to make it happen.

I hope not but I worry. Because I, for one, would rather go down in a ball of flames, having explored every nook and cranny of my life and my world, than live life at a slow burn, forever afraid to stoke the fire.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Out of control

That is: Daisy's toy collection.

Granted, she's home all day, most days, and so is engaged at one point or another with almost everything she has (and I did purge/donate in January), but it's getting to the point where I'm kind of embarrassed to have people over. Unless they have kids Daisy's age, in which case, they're thrilled to have something to occupy them.

The irony, of course, is that this is supposed to be/was our "adult" room. We have a family room but since the dogs essentially "live" in it (read as furry, smelly den) and we put in hard-wood floor (read as multiple opportunities for toddler head bonks) we have kind of let ourselves live in the living room. Which was totally not my plan. Not at all.

What was my plan?

Something like this...

... but with a bit more color/vibrance. Great for conversation, reading, relaxing, cocktails... you know, ADULT STUFF.

Instead, my living room (and what was formerly a dining room, before I sold the dining room table and all-but gave-up on having an adult dinner  for, oh, say, 10 years) looks like this




Yeah, you can gasp now.

How do YOU manage your kids' things? Do you just not have as much stuff as we do? Obvy, I need tips.

HELLLLLLLLLLP! I am drowning in Fisher Price!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thought Provoking

This morning, while on my 5am walk, I listened to this segment on NPR about segregation in America. Apparently, the rate of integration in America has been slowing down since the sixties, to the point where 20-30 years from now, if we follow the same progression, we won't be much further along than we are today.


One of the metrics used in this study was the rate and volume by which whites integrate into majority black neighborhoods. And this brought me up short because, although I consider myself to be very multi-culturally minded and definitely not racist, I had to concede that I would likely not move into a predominantly African American neighborhood in America.

The thing that's hard to separate from race is socio-economic status. Typically (and I admit that this is a sweeping overgeneralization) African American neighborhoods are lower-income areas with higher crime rates. Regardless of the racial make-up. it just wouldn't make logical sense for me to move my family to that neighborhood when I make decent money and can move to a safer, albeit whiter, neighborhood.

It's a dilemma I'm sure many Americans face and it has no easy answer. Obviously, expecting middle-class white families to move into poorer but more racially diverse neighborhoods is not the answer. It's just not reasonable. Welcoming more races into my own neighborhood would be great but that is a whole other conversation about social mobility in America. It aint an easy conversation either since 'pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps' and 'gaining government assistance' seem to be the polarizing viewpoints that dominate the conversation.

But it bothers me that everyone I know on my street is white. I don't want Daisy to grow up thinking of blacks or hispanics or anyone as "other". I believe in equality pure and simple - no matter your color, beliefs, gender, sexual preference, nationality, or pretty much anything else you can think of - and my reaction to the reality of white integration was troubling to me.

Random thoughts with no conclusions. Interested to hear your perspective...

Monday, February 14, 2011

The nightmare that wasn't

On Saturday I got pulled over by a CHP officer just a mile or so from home. I was a bit miffed but not worried because I knew I had not been speeding or breaking any other law at the time... or so I thought.

As it turns out, I had.

My car's registration had been expired since September of last year!!

Now, I'll admit to not being THE MOST organized person and yes, it is true that I have three years of filing waiting to be done, piling up in the bottom of a file cabinet. However, barring some major mishap or life event, I am never late with bills and this is not the kind of bill I would ignore. Further, given that it had been expired for 5 months, I would have had to of missed several expiration warnings from the DMV, which I'm pretty sure I did not.

And yet, as the CHP officer patiently waited for me to sift through all the mommy crap in my glove compartment, my brain began to race. I bought the car in December of 2009 and did not remember ever having received or paid a registration renewal for it. I knew, as I was kinda pretending to look for the document, that I didn't have it but, since I hadn't realized it until that moment, I figured following through with my exclamations of confusion and incredulity was necessary.

I did find the original paper registration that was sent to me after I purchased the car but that was it. The officer took that, my license and insurance, and went off to run my numbers.

As a model citizen, I was not worried, of course. In fact, it was a sunny day, Daisy was not in the car with me (which I was really thankful for), and I was not in a hurry to get anywhere for a change. I sat in a strip mall parking lot with the window open and actually appreciated the enforced rest. (Yeah, I know, comes to something when you appreciate a traffic stop just to get some R&R.)

Turns out there was an incomplete release of liability on my DMV record, which saved me. A perfectly plausible explanation as to why I hadn't received any renewal notices (whew - I had been thinking stolen mail and identity theft or something.) I got a fix-it ticket anyway and ended up having a very nice conversation with the officer about my accent, which is pretty usual. The few other times I have been stopped by a cop, I have had similar experiences. I even actually thanked him for stopping me and alerting me to my out-of-date registration. We parted with a smile and told each other to have a good day.

(Yes, birds were chirping in the background too.)

All of which still left me with a 5-months out-of-date registration that I needed to take care of ASAP. Fortunately I don't have to drive to work every day but I still use my car A LOT and can't afford to be off the road for any length of time. This meant a trip to the DMV on Monday morning. And without an appointment.


Here is what I was thinking: long lines, hours out of my precious work-day, cancel my Valentines lunch with Hubby, arguments with the DMV rep who wants to charge me penalties for late payment, forms to take to the dealership to force them to release liability, more calls and arguments with them to get them to cover my penalties, weeks of issue and hassle, and perhaps even a mental breakdown by yours truly. Because these sorts of things are never easy, are they?

Well, as it turns out, sometimes they are.

I got to the DMV at 8am when they opened, was seen within 10 minutes, had my registration issue fixed, paid my registration minus penalties and left with my 2011 decal. I was home by 8:30.


I know. Chirping birds again.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Remembering Rosie

Yesterday we remembered Rosie, my mother-in-law, who left us far too early, on January 31st.


It was an unseasonably warm and sunny day on the Foresthill Road. At some points, almost too bright. If you've ever been emotionally rung dry, you probably know that it feels a lot like a hangover, where sunlight and noise are a little assaulting. So, at least for me, it was a bit like that.

But Rosie loved the sunshine and so she would have loved this unexpected Spring day, so you couldn't complain.

So many people turned up on a Wednesday afternoon to remember all the wonderful and amazing things that she was. People from different phases of her life - and there were many - but all of whom had the same things to say about Rosie: she was an extraordinarily big hearted woman with a tough will and an uncommon grace.

My husband gave a tear-choked  rememberance of his mom, interspersed with humor and personal anecdotes. It was fitting for a lady who gave us a photo of herself and her best friend that she framed with the quote: "Don't take life too seriously. You will never come out of it alive." (That photo has been sitting in our kitchen for more than ten years and I have a feeling it will have a home in every kitchen we ever own.) I was very proud of him for getting through that speech in one piece. Just like his mother, he has shown uncommon strength and grace throughout these difficult months and weeks.

My brother-in-law then delivered a wonderfully written eulogy that touched on just some of those many "phases" of her interesting and varied life.

And yet, one of the most emotional moments for me was seeing Rosie's band of friends assemble in front of the audience in a show of collective love and appreciation. These friends were her softball team thirty years or so ago, banded together after the sudden death of another friend at the time. These ladies probably haven't assembled together this way in 20 or more years and it was so touching to see them rekindle that friendship and remember those years, as they remembered Rosie.


And no Foresthill memorial would be complete without a gun-shot in the distance or a slightly intoxicated mourner delivering a quote by Thoreau.

I didn't take many photos, as you would expect. Mostly because it was hard to figure out what was appropriate but also because I was busy being introduced to friends and family I had never met before.

It was the perfect celebration of Rosie's life - a confluence of wildly different people, an outpouring of love and appreciation, and a healthy dose of informality to lighten the mood.

I miss her.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Random Friday

Today, as I was in front of my house doing my warm-ups before my new morning exercise routine, a kitty dashed out from a yard, almost into my path. It stopped in it's tracks upon seeing me, looked warily at me for a second and then? Sat down to observe. For about a minute, said kitty was my audience for calf stretches, quad stretches, and hamstring stretches. Then, kitty "mewed", turned his/her head and trotted off dismissively as if to say "Silly human!"



Speaking of cats and those walks in the wee hours... Apparently, according to the Neighborhood Watch, there is a pack of coyotes prowling our neighborhood, chomping on neighborhood pets and wild turkeys. Ack!

We have a greenbelt behind our back yard that extends out to the main thoroughfare in our subdivision and then in the other direction into a larger, natural area. Since we are close to a state recreation area and the American River Parkway, things can get pretty wild around here.  Like I said: turkeys, tons of squirrels, raccoons, skunks, and even a Mountain Lion that is said to live under a large tree not too far from our back yard. The odd coyote is not unusual either, of course, and, aside from keeping my dogs out of the back yard late at night, I don't really consider them too much of a danger. But a whole pack of 'em? Now, that sounds a little more sinister, no?


Many of you have been kind enough to ask how you can pay your respects to my mother-in-law, who passed on Monday. Thank you. There will be a memorial service next Wednesday afternoon at the Monte Verde Inn on the Foresthill Road. We are requesting no flowers, please (Rosie wasn't a big fan of lavish bouquets). Instead if you would like to commemorate her in another way, a donation can be made in her name to the local Hospice charity, who were so instrumental in supporting her and our family in the final weeks. Please let me know if you would like more details on how to contribute.
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