Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Oh the neglect

After spending 2.5 hours trying to convince a toddler that yes, really, she needs a nap, I have a few moments to myself to contemplate my blog neglect. No better remedy...

Jana and I ventured downtown today to take the kids on the carousel at Westlake. They seemed to enjoy it, though Karsten wasn't his usual spunky self. Since the kids weren't really into it, and Karsten seemed to be sick, and everyone was hungry, we skipped the gingerbread houses at the Sheraton and went straight to the
all time best place for pho...Pho Bac on Jackson near 14th. Pho crack, seriously.

In the next 3 days I have a bit of a list to accomplish, but leisurely as I'm on break from school (really!): pick up Santa photos, some last minute shopping at Barnes and Noble, Trader Joe's, and a few other spots which will remain nameless. Also on the list for the next few days: excursions with Nana and Grampy, Christmas Eve lunch at the taco truck, and 5 pm service at St. James.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Back to normal

I think we're seeing light at the end of the craziness tunnel. I've neglected my blog for long enough, and yet, what to write? My brain has been totally saturated by school and moving and toddlerdom that I haven't had any bloggable thoughts lately. Hmmm.

How about the final weeks of 2009: There are six weeks left of the first decade of this millenium. (Ray pointed this out the other day and I nearly fell over.) I think these next few weeks are going to be really great. Here's why:

1. I have a very structured schedule for working on my pre-dissertation project manuscript and related conference proposal. It seems quite doable, and so therefore fun. I think my paper is going to be accepted at this conference, as it's a good study. Just a little nervous that I can present it in a way that lives up to its theoretical origins.

2. If I do well on the next two neuro exams, I can skip the last exam on the 11th, thus ending my quarter a few days early.

3. I'm excited to have all of the week of Dec 14th blocked out to write (really, this is part of #1).

4. We are hosting Thanksgiving for my family at our new house...and since they haven't seen it yet, I can't wait to show it to them.

5. We're planning a end-of-quarter/holiday/housewarming thingy for the weekend of Dec 12-13. I'm thinking pie, cheese, fruit, and hot spiced wine.

6. We're planning on a big Christmas tree this year. Woohoo!

7. Front door is aching for a nice green wreath.

8. I AM taking the last 2 weeks of December off. August and I will be looking for lots of fun activities for those weeks.

9. Diane suggested adding another rockstar to my committee. I love having a great mentor with fantastic connections.

10. The furnace we need to replace is actually working great. Hoping that continues for at least a few more months.

11. Ray picked up my old tv from his dad, so now it's set up in the basement by my exercise bike, just waiting for a cycling/movie watching occasion.

12. Sheila's annual chocolate party -- can't wait. (And another good reason to be happy about #11.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

All set, pretty much

The boxes are 98% packed. Just a little food left to bag up. Art off the walls, nails removed. A few boxes still open waiting for last minute random stuff. Movers arrive at 8:30 am. Should I shower? Did I sticker all the boxes? Ooops ran out of colors. What do I do with this thing? Oh, just throw it in box.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hate to wait

I've always been terrible at waiting. If something is wrong, just tell me now so I can work out my Plan B. I'm awful at anticipating the unknown. Welcome to life.

Once again we are waiting to hear about our new house. Nothing dire probably, everything appears to be moving forward "as far as we know," but we're waiting to hear back about the filing of some paperwork that should clear title. Title must clear...will it?

The plan is to have the keys by Friday morning (yes, this Friday) and rent the place until we close, possibly on the 16th or at least some time in November. I am not going to be confident (i.e. relaxed) until we a) have the keys in hand and b) sign our names on the dotted line. Of course this is real estate 101...but geez is it ever an emotionally draining process.

If worse comes to worse, we will have the movers pack our stuff into storage containers, stay with Sooz for a few days, find an apartment and unpack the essentials, and find a new house. It will be challenging but it will be temporary.

And that's why I should not be so stressed about all's all ultimately temporary!

Sunday, November 1, 2009


August dressed as a Thomas (the train) Princess, because trains, tutus and tiaras naturally go together.

We had 75 trick-or-treaters this year. The last two hit paydirt: at 9 pm we set out a shoebox FULL of the remaining loot, blew out the pumpkins, but kept the glowy cauldron going. Not more than 10 minutes later we heard two kids giggling and whispering how much of the shoebox goods they should take. They took about 2/3 of the candy and ran off. They could've had the whole one else came by.

My sister had a whopping 522 at their house. Impressive!

Friday, October 23, 2009

You study...what?

When people ask what I do/study -- even people I know well -- I'm a little stumped as to what to say. If I give them the short-n-sweet, they respond with a glazed over look. If I give them the long-and-longer,'s pretty much the same look. Now that I've had a year or so of practice, here's how I've boiled it down: start with one word, and if they want more, go to a phrase, then a sentence, then a paragraph. For example: "Rebecca, what is it that you study again?"

Neurological disorders impact on language.
Aphasia, which is a disorder which often follows a stroke and impacts language processing.
Aphasia. You see, after a stroke, some people have one or more lesions in their brain which impair their ability to understand and/or produce language. While their speech musculature might be completely fine, they just can't connect concepts with words to a greater or lesser degree.
(And if they really want the whole story -- I've given this answer maybe once -- add to the above:) More recently, some people believe that aphasia co-occurs with impairments in attention and working memory. My research looks at how attention and working memory might play a larger role in word finding difficulties, the primary characteristic of aphasia, than we think.

Are you still with me? No? Oh well.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting closer

Just a moment to post. House purchase appears to be moving forward, despite sellers' legal hurdles. Had inspection today:

Inspector: "You found something really special here."
Ray: "Yeah, my wife loves old houses."
Inspector: "Well buddy, you hit the jackpot."

Stay tuned. Some day I will get back to regular blogging.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy thoughts

The house we're trying to buy may slip away due to bankrupt agents without integrity and large financial institutions without a soul.

Expecting the best, preparing for the worst, and meanwhile working on thinking happy thoughts.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


The For Sale sign went up in front of our house a few days ago. Yesterday our real estate agent told us about a call he received:

Caller: "I'm calling about the house for sale."

Agent: "Which one?"

Caller: "The one with your name on it?" (chuckles)

Agent: "The house on 12th?"

Caller: "Yeah, why are they moving?"

Agent: "Well, they're just ready for something bigger."

Caller: "Oh. I don't want them to move."

Given our agent's description we knew exactly who the caller was: our 140-year-old next door neighbor, who shares his tomatoes, climbs up his ladder to help us harvest plums, and who lost his wife about a month ago. While he's a man of very few words, I guess he's likes us as neighbors as much as we like him.

Meanwhile, we're putting in an offer on this house abut 6 blocks away. The seller went bankrupt, so our offer has to be approved by the court, hopefully by midweek. Crossing fingers!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Unraveling the fetal position

I started writing this garbled, stressed-out post yesterday about buying and selling houses, but since I wasn't quite coherent, I gave it up. Now I have some clear perspective on that matter, and on its context in life.

Part I
We are selling our house. We are hoping incoming first-time buyers taking advantage of the current tax credit will jump on our house with enthusiasm...or so says our real estate agent, who seems to be right about quite a lot of things. While scrambling to get our house ready to list and show in the next week, we've also just dipped our toes in looking for a new house and -- BAM, The Opportunity comes along. It's a not-quite-complete remodel, way under our price range, nearly 3x the size of our current home, 1925 Tudor, and dead center of our life in West Seattle, geographically speaking. The banker started crunching numbers on something called an FHA(203)k, which gives us a new mortgage plus some cash to complete the remodel. As soon as it was approved (bless him, working this Sunday morning), we learn the seller (bank repo) will not entertain contingent offers. Damn.

Meanwhile, and against my better judgement, I started to get really attached to the idea of this house (the space! the price! beautifully remodelled!) and really unattached to other things in our price range (why up our monthly mortgage payments that much for just a little more space?). Sigh...the house will very likely be gone by the time we have an offer.

Part II
I went to cheer for Team Stomp This today, day 3 of the 3-Day Walk. Incredible, inspirational...more than 2,000 people gave up 3 days to walk 60 miles for breast cancer research. And Ms. Stomp This herself, Sheila, was right there, beautiful big smile, spring in her step, even though this has been the most physically and emotionally harrowing year of her life. We cheered, were teary and huggy and wired on the good juju fueled by the event, not to mention that she only had less than 4 miles to go to the finish line.

Among the walkers were a few firefighters who had committed to walking in full fire paraphernalia. While I read about this in the paper, it wasn't until I was standing in the sun for an hour that I realized how uncomfortable and exhausting this must be for these walkers. But there they were, walking by, one of them carrying an axe. I hope they were drinking a lot of water.

Anyway, what all this reminded me about is what's really, health, family, good friends, fun, challenges, taking risks and care of each other. There will be lots of houses eventually dubbed The Opportunity, but there is only one Sheila, and one son Ollie squirting the walkers with water as they walked by, and one husband Jason keeping everyone up to date on when and where to cheer. And there are just a handful of firefighters crazy enough to walk 60 miles in the heat in their black, fire-retardant suits and heavy sloping helmets for a good cause.

So I will uncurl from the fetal position, wait for the right house to come along, and be grateful...for so many things.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


We went to see Julie & Julia tonight, which was truly delightful, and inspired a lingering appreciation for...1950s-era pumps!

Bruno Magli's Aulia

Taryn by Taryn Rose's Candid

Pour La Victoire's Jacqueline

As for Ray, I think he's still thinking about Bœuf Bourguignon.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Birthday appointments

I hate it when I get out of sync with blogging. It's like how other people feel when they haven't gone to aerobics in a few weeks. Heck, it's how I feel when I haven't gone swimming in...awhile. Must rectify.

This week I've been thinking about a couple of things, but nothing terribly pressing: selling/buying new house (not pressing, but big), scheduling subjects for study that wraps in less than a month, configuring new laptop for lab, realizing that I think my data analysis so far is actually (dare I say it) meaningful, blaming fake sweeteners for bad mood on Monday, and thinking about how I'm going to celebrate my birthday with a much needed day OFF.

This shouldn't be a matter for much contemplation. Lots of people take days off, especially on their birthday. I am notorious for scheduling myself out of time off with what seems, at the moment anyway, urgent business. I once had a 2 week vacation that dwindled down to 3 days because I thought I was needed elsewhere. This is hogwash, and a bad habit. I need to be nicer to this year it's going to be different. I am going to trick myself into a day off by scheduling my day with things I want to do. And it's all going into my calendar, so when I try to schedule a meeting or project or whatever, I'll be like, "Ooh, looky here, I guess I'm all booked up that day."

Here are some preliminary thoughts on birthday "appointments": early swim in Lake Washington, drive to Salish Lodge for pancakes or stand in line at Salumi for lunch, massage, facial, matinee...ah, I had another thought when I began this post and now I've forgotten...go to Le Panier and write a short story while people watching, take a fun and frivolous one day class (on what I don't know). Make a movie, visit 5 places that begin with the letter M, take a photo every hour on the hour...something fun and silly and slightly creative.

"Appointments" cannot be anything on the run-of-the-mill to do list, no household projects or shopping or errand running, but fun or engaging experiences, outdoors if possible, maybe a beautiful drive, relaxation required, 99% laptop free, and no cancellations.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How about them...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blog therapy

I'm sitting at Uptown Espresso grading papers and realizing: I need to reduce my workload-induced anxiety. I find I can't enjoy things I would normally enjoy (grading papers for instance, believe it or not), because I can't ignore the tension associated with wondering how I'm going to get everything else done (most of which I would enjoy too, if I just had sufficient time).

It seems silly that while my life is filled with activities I really love to do, I just can't enjoy them because there are just too many. (For example, I'll be cutting this post short...)

Hmmm, need to work on this. Can't reduce the load so much, so I'll just adjust my attitude. Somehow.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Recipe themes

Just grabbed my recipe in-box stack, which has probably been accumulating for more than a year, to find a specific recipe for a black bean/corn salad I made a while ago. Of course it was on the bottom of the pile, but it was fun to leaf through and realize how many recipes are not-so-distant relations. My food/cooking tastes pretty much boil down to:

Grilly sandwiches
Vegetable soups (roasted, Italian wedding, spicy, tomato, asparagus)
Salads (roasted butternut squash, roasted tomatoes, etc.)
Chicken with green chiles
Chicken with ginger, honey, garlic, sesame oile, soy sauce, or some such combo.
Pumpkin (bread, biscotti, rice, custard, pancakes, you name it)
Banana pudding, bread
Apple tarts
Fried green tomatoes
Hot spiced wine

Friday, July 24, 2009

Trip highlights

We're back in town and I'm still exhausted. I think I've been fighting off a cold helped along by a late night flight home. Anyway, we had a marvelous time which included the following highlights:

- Phenomenal Latin food at Emiliano's in Gainesville. We went here twice. Ray had some outstanding BBQ. Sangria was also excellent.
- Had the best Gazpacho ever while in Atlanta, and will attempt the recipe myself sometime this weekend.
- Disney World was incredibly fun.
- Swam near dolphins while staying on Tybee Island. At one point they were about 15 ft away. Incredible.
- Did not make it to Mrs. Wilkes in Savannah as the line was too long for August to endure, but Ray bought her cookbook.
- Architectural tour of Savannah was interesting, and tour guide Jonathon's knowledge was very deep. Highly recommended.
- Learned at Fort Pulaski that the Union soldiers named their cannons after generals, while the Confederate soldiers named their cannons after their moms and sweethearts.
- Southern mosquitoes LOVE me (more of a lowlight than a highlight)
- I have new home layout/floorplan ideas after staying in 3 different homes and one condo. And a new appreciation for the Ranch and Frank Lloyd Wright.
- Ate some of the best pizza ever at Satchel's in Gainesville.
- August learned how to climb out of her pack-n-play a few days after we arrived. She also climbed out of her crib the day after we returned home. Sigh.
- Renewed appreciation for chilled white wine.
- When you have the absolute "best" mattress at home, it spoils you for all other mattresses. My back is slowly unkinking. Love love love Tempur-Pedic.
- Waffle House pecan waffles rock.
- Did stop at Sonic and got a blue coconut slushy, which I quickly realized would make me sick, so dumped out. Oh well.
- Really dislike that GPS lady. Directions consistently idiotic.
- The only way I'll eat crab is fresh, boiled, and untainted by anything but a bit of dipping butter.
- Hmmm, what else. Maybe I'll post a few photos...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pilgrimage to Mickey: success!

I've pretty much believed it was a bit premature and silly to bring a young toddler to Disneyland/world. But when faced with our choices for outings this weekend, and rain in the forecast for the beach, we said "well...why not?" The decision was fortified by August's new and enthusiastic interest in Mickey Mouse (which we think may have started at daycare).

Last night we scoured the website, picked out a handful of toddler appropriate activities, mapped our driving route, and packed up the hats and sunblock. We headed out about 8 am this morning, aiming to get there by 10 am. By the time we parked, took the tram to ticketing, boarded the ferry and made it to the Magic Kingdom, it was probably 11 am. But no matter, we knew we'd only see a small portion of the park, and there's no pushing it with a 2-year-old in tow.

We walked down Main Street, saw the last part of the show with Mickey in front of the castle ("Mickey Mouse!"), then went in to a cafe in Tomorrow Land for an early lunch. By the time we finished, a parade was trotting by ("P'ade!...Mickey Go!"), which we watched for a minute from a distance before going to Fantasyland and Mickey's Toon Town (home to most of the toddler-appropriate stuff). We tried Mickey's PhilharMagic first (too loud and strange for a 2-year-old...the day's misstep), then Small World (absolutely August's speed). From there it was Pooh's Playful Spot for some running around time, then Toontown Hall of Fame, Mickey's Judges Tent to meet the mouse himself, and Minnie too (which we feared would scare August, but she absolutely loved it). Then we rode the Disney World train around the park and realized that it was naptime. We headed into some Pinocchio-themed eatery, where we had some cool drinks and snacks while August conked out in her stroller for a good hour. Meanwhile, the afternoon monsoon had started, but that didn't stop Ray and I from taking turns running over to the Haunted Mansion (not quite as cool as I remembered it, but of course I was 12 the last time). Both soaking wet, we used the umbrella to shield a now awake August, and ran through giant puddles to get to only Must on the list for the day: Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. Basically it was a comedy routine MCed by Mike Wazowski, which of course August didn't understand, but she loved seeing the characters "live" and clapping with the audience. I think it was the highlight of her day, followed by meeting Mickey and Minnie as a close second.

Since it was now almost 6 pm, we decided to try our luck on the Pirates of Caribbean, another favorite from my previous trip. While the rain was gone, there was no line, and Ray and I again took turns on the ride, while August ate dinner and gleefully and inadvertently smeared peanut butter on her new Mickey doll.

Walked back to the main entrance, took the monorail to ticketing, tram to parking, and drove back up to Gainesville. Whew.

So the lesson we learned is: Yes! If you're in the vicinity, do Disney with a toddler, but set your schedule and expectations low for the day. Pick out only a few things to see, allow for nap/downtime at some nice air-conditioned eatery, and pick out one "big kid" ride to do on your own. Since we forgot snacks in the car, we were grateful for healthy choices like PB&J, apple slices, grapes and strawberry yogurt (though I fear a chicken nugget or two crept into our meals today).

All in all, it was a truly fantastic day, definitely worth the cost of the tickets...especially considering August giggled most of the way back to Gainesville.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bit of the South

I'm starting to accumulate a list of things we must do during our FL/GA odyssey, per recommendations and a few self-generated ideas. Here's what I have so far:

1. Sonic drive-in
2. Waffle House: order pecan waffle and cup of coffee; note Southern slice-of-life.
3. [DEL Terrell's BBQ] Emiliano's here in Gainesville (twice/check)
4. Get some boiled roasted peanuts
5. [DEL Possible day at Gulf Coast beach] Disneyworld (check)
6. Drive to Charleston
7. Cumberland Island
8. buy some Gator gear (check)
9. listen to some live bluegrass (rained out)
10. architectural tour of Savannah
11. Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House for some Southern food
12. Antique market in Savannah

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Launch to Florida

Today's the big day. The optimistic part of my personality is trying to overcome the catastrophistic part of my personality. Flying with a toddler might not be pretty, but then again, it might be just fine, and either way it'll be over by midnight tonight. Heck, I can endure anything for a few hours, right.

New little toys and books are wrapped, lollipops stowed, dvds selected, teddybear at the ready. Blanket and monkey are stashed in luggage, along with Bob's ABCs and Elmo's bedtime book. Three swimsuits, 2 sunhats, 1 blowup beach ball...check. Sunblock? About 4 kinds.

Oh yeah, I'm going to Florida to work! I've packed my stats workbook and a million articles related to my project, 3 pairs of sandals, and a sweater for the overly air-conditioned VA building. Pencils, post-its, laptop.

This morning I just need to pack last minute items, set up Twitter mobile, and take August to the park for some energy burn-off. Flight's at 2 pm.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer checklist

Every summer I think about what I'd like to do before fall rolls around again. Then Jana posted her 38 things before 39 list, and that lit a fire:

1. Lunch with Ray at Armandino Batali's
2. Replace back door
3. Replace deck roofing
4. Goodwill
5. Put bike in trunk of car for some semi-commutes to school
6. Outdoor concert with August
7. Experience Sonic drive-in
8. Go to Savannah!
8a. Go to Paula Deen's restaurant?
8b. See about driving up to Charleston
9. Find one bit of the South to bring home with me.
10. Get inaugural flight with toddler out of the way
11. At least 4 open water swims in Aug-Sept
12. Meet up with friends/family at Lincoln Park
13. Shoe/museum outing with Jana
14. Make a new book for August's 2nd birthday
15. This is a toughie: do not get consumed by pilot study which peaks in Aug-Sept
16. Take August to swim at Madison Park beach on a sunny afternoon.
17. Look into/attend kiddie concert series at Seattle Symphony.
18. One NW weekend away.
19. Paint trim.
20. Work on flexibility

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Clearing the backlog

The last week or so has been rather hectic, and I keep thinking I'd post the latest, but it just never happened. While Ray loads the rental truck for the dump and I wait for my fish sticks (yes, fish sticks) to come out of the oven, I'll do a little blog-cleanse, twitter version:

Rental car! I love driving rental cars, even this strange little Pontiac whatever-it-is.

DSW—ever been there? It’s like a paradise for the shoe addict. Some cute bags too.

Fever. August has a fever, and it looks like her 3-day holiday with Nana is on hold, or maybe cancelled. Ugh.

You know, you'd never know this kid was sick 30 min post Tylenol.

No sleep last night with feverish toddler in bed with us. And I had plans to get so much done today.

Trip to Nana's resurrected. Doctor thinks this fever thing will run a mild course. Meanwhile I am behind!

Fever gone, August-Nana meet up successful, home to get cranking on my prep for tomorrow’s meetings. But ey am I tired.

Frantically considering what “essentials” need to be ordered to arrive before launch to Florida in 9 days. Car seat table/tray on its way.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Study break

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Feliz Anniversario

Here's to many more years, and maybe even a sailboat.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

22 (months) going on 22

August insisted on wearing these boots today.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Once in awhile I have a good idea. About 10 years ago I typed up a list of everything I need for a weekend away. I put the list in a sheet protector and I still use it to this day. It's somehow (geekily) quite satisfying.

Off to a conference to be inspired...and to get a lot of work done!

(Speaking of inspiration...thanks for the photo idea, Jane.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Every once in a while (actually, more frequently than that), I encounter a typical daily-life situation in which I fail miserably. Common sense flies out the window, and I'm left contemplating my ineptitude.

Case in point: Today I was studying (quite productively) at one of my favorite study spots. A guy comes in asking about a black Volvo in the parking lot. He'd hit my car while pulling in to the parking space.

So instead of being slightly miffed and focused on the problem at hand, I think about how great it is that he came forward to admit his mistake. Ray's car has been hit 2 or 3 times with no note, no nothing.

We walk out to look at the damage, and he gives me his insurance card. Instead of writing down his insurance information, I thank him for coming forward, and simply jot down his name, address, and ask for his phone number. Then I give him my name and number...on a piece of paper I need to keep, which means I have to rewrite it. Does he need this? I have no clue. Do I need to write down his insurance company and policy number? Of course, but I don't think of this at the time. Do I need to make a note of his license number? Of course, but I don't think of this either.

Before he leaves I thank him again. As he drives off I think of all I should've done, and realize, yet again:
1) I don't need to be friends with everybody.
2) I do need to think/act like a responsible adult.

At the same time, I'm kinda glad that I can still be grateful for the integrity of others even in the midst of situations where I'm at a loss. Now if I could just get some focus and common sense during these situations, we'd have a winning strategy.

Until then, I need a chaperone.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thankful for sun

What a spectacular weekend. After a pretty intense couple of weeks, this weekend felt like a much needed break. I have done zero schoolwork (aside from an hour or two of grading) and that's okay. This is the quiet before the end-of-quarter craziness, and it seemed best spent relaxing.

Some highlights from this weekend:
- Brunch at mentor's place
- Scoured and organized the pantry cupboard
- W Sea farmers some advice on planting tomatoes and basil
- finally cut out and mulched over the last bed in the front yard
- Ray did a great job of getting rid of a winters-worth of fallen branches and dead shrubbery
- Aug and I swam at the pool
- August's first "mine!" proclamation: book called I Like To Share

I think I feel ready for the week, and whatever comes next, namely...

- conference in Keystone, CO
- Finals
- Write pre-dissertation prospectus (eeek) by end of finals week
- Prep for co-teaching summer quarter
- One week neuroplasticity seminar
- Fly to U of F, Gainesville, FL
- Three weeks of research (i.e. self-directed stats bootcamp)
- Five days of fun at Tybee Island/Savannah, GA before heading home
- Four weeks of teaching

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In Memory of Sammy

Sammy Sosa Chowderhead, formerly Suzie Q Von Crown, was born May 6, 1993 to sire Tobias Xavier II and dam Thompson’s Stormy Weather of Grapevine, Texas. She lived in Texas with her family for several years before moving to the Pacific Northwest. Upon the installation of white carpeting, Sammy became an “outside dog,” a situation which did not suit her. Recognizing this, a vigilant neighbor suggested a better home for Sammy.

Sammy was adopted by Rebecca and Andy in November, 1998. In her new home she made friends (as best she could) with resident cat Ramon. Sammy enjoyed playing with her stuffed toys – carrot, elephant, and an assortment of hippos – and liked to gather her “babies” (i.e. socks) in a pile in the backyard. In addition to walks around the neighborhood, Sammy enjoyed trips to the beach, running after birds, and rides in the car. Sammy loved food, but would to ask permission for a loitering sandwich or waffle on the kitchen counter before gobbling it up.

Sammy was a fierce watchdog and simultaneous tail-wagger, who would bark non-stop upon the arrival of a guest, and then be ready to go home with them 10 minutes later. She defended her family, even Ramon, but would yield to the slightest hint of assertion. For example, if someone, say Ramon, wanted her beef rib bone, Sammy would immediately acquiesce.

Sammy kept a brave face through many trials over the years: ACL surgery, several mastectomies, a severe bacterial infection, and more recently seizures. Throughout it all, she was a source of joy and comfort for her family – especially Rebecca, Ray, August, Andy, Grammy, and when convenient T-ko and Ramon. She will be dearly missed.

Please sign the memorial guestbook (i.e. comments).

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Weather: It's rainy and windy outside. Perfect night for movie watching.

Today's question: Anyone have a great 20-min workout dvd (cardiovascular)?

Current tv addiction: Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa

Current weekend project: finding elastic material for my boots mod. Girdle material didn't cut it with the cobbler.

Current weekend school-work: grading 39 papers

Tomorrow's highlights: Sustainable West Seattle and play with Baby R.

Tonight's dinner: quinoa pasta with pesto and talapia and salad

Tonight's movie idea: Pillow Talk with Doris Day and Rock Hudson

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quick thoughts on Monday

I'm sure I'm only the 20,000th person to blog about the suckage of Mondays. I have not been a Monday-hater in the past. Frankly, I really didn't see what all the fuss was about. But now I get it. I am tired on Monday, and my brain just doesn't usually cooperate until sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning. Why? Lord knows. I get the same amount of sleep as most nights.

So what can be done? Here's what I propose:

1. No meetings or classes shall be held on Monday
2. Work will commence as usual (barring item 1), except not until 10 am
3. Mandatory lunch out with friends.
4. Since Mondays will be catch-up day, we are encouraged to get work done while listening to nice music and wearing comfortable clothes.

That's all I've got for now.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pre-mud shot

(Sorry, Lloyd, no post mud shot, though I wish I had taken one.)

I showed August this picture.

A: "Girl? Girl?"

Me: "August, that's you!"

A: "Dress?"

Me: "Yes, you're wearing a dress."

A: "Audus!"

Me: "Yup, that's August."

Monday, April 6, 2009


Sheila, a chocolate insider, turned me on to these terrible things. They're awful -- milk chocolate, marshmallow, orange jam filling. Who thought this was a good idea? Thankfully they're imported and only available at Cost Plus World Market and other similar places, otherwise I'd have to look at them and contemplate, er...not buying them for weeks on end.

Disgusting. Try to steer clear.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My legs hurt

Not really, but do remember when you were a kid and your legs ached for no apparent reason? "Growing pains," mom said. "It just means you're getting taller."

So apparently I'm getting taller, in a sense. I've got stacks of cds around me, and I'm randomly plugging one in after another and ripping them to my computer. But it makes me sad, or melancholy, or angsty. While I'll be gaining space on the shelves, not to mention clearing up those damn cluttery jewel cases, I won't be able to visually scan my cds in the same way, finding the right band or singer or musical style that fits my mood, the recipe, the day. And what if my computer gets stolen? Or what if I don't have enough memory for all of them (I think Ray said this was not at all an issue). And this is going to take me for-frickin-ever to finish. Like months and months. Maybe even a year or more.

"You could just leave them as is," Ray said, trying to be helpful.

"No," I sighed. "I've gotta do it eventually." And so I sit, organizing my life and space along with my music, listening to 3 Mustaphas 3 and trying to keep this silly project in perspective. But it still aches...

Once I rip the cd, do I keep just the cd in a case, in it's original case, get rid of it entirely (sell it to Easy Street)? Should I do this in some kind of order so after a few weeks I remember what's already been ripped?

This is ridiculous. I think I just need to go to bed and figure this out later. Right after Dido.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It's spring!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why I'm mad at BSG

Last night was the final episode of Battlestar Galactica, which Ray and I have watched faithfully since season 1. I'm not much of a sci-fi fan, but I am a fan of good story-telling, character and suspenseful plot development. It's been a good ride, a great ride by some accounts. Until last night.

Rather than geeking out about the specifics, let me instead use an analogy:

Let's say there's a store in your neighborhood that has really good stuff, maybe something like Trader Joe's or Archie McPhee's. You frequent this store not only because of the good stuff they carry, but also because they have regular raffles with pretty decent iPhone, trip to Zihuatanejo, a years-worth of free coffee from your favorite coffee house, etc. Over the years you enter these raffles, not just because you're digging the prizes, but the store also promises to enter you into the Grand-daddy of all Raffles. This is such a Big Deal that they start advertising it a couple years ahead of the actual drawing, and build quite a bit of attention and suspense. Oh boy, I can't wait to see what the prize is! And yeah, I'll enter every raffle that comes along just to up my chances! Woohoo--can't wait!

The day of the Big Deal Raffle arrives. Everyone waits expectantly inside the store. Tension is palpable. The store owner stands on top of the check-out counter, and shakes the sack of raffle tickets. The crowd goes hush, while the owner sticks his hand in the sack and pulls out the winning ticket.

"Before I announce the winner, I'll first tell you about the prize. It's amazing!"

"To this lucky winner," he says, waving the clutched ticket, "...A COUPON GOOD FOR 25%-OFF ANYTHING IN THE STORE!"

He reads the name. No one claims the prize.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday, posing as Friday

It's been a grueling week. Studying and schoolwork (TA responsibilities) have taken up every free moment, with the exception of 7-8 pm when we eat and relax. I stay up late to study, then get up early to keep studying. When finals are over I'm not sure I'll know what to do with myself. Oh wait -- I'll be grading papers and finals. And working on a proposal. But at least it will be much less tension-producing.

Anyway, my three thankfuls for this week:

1. So thankful for spousal unit who supports my weekend study strategy and ups his daddy time with August.

2. As much as I like my teaching and TA job, it will feel like such a luxury next year to focus on research. I'm grateful there's grant money to fund this part of my program.

3. Chocolate cake. I am not suppose to be eating this (gluten! sugar! chocolate!), but damn it it's been a rough week, and I have the BEST recipe for a simple chocolate loaf cake a la Nigella:

1 cup soft butter (or 1/2 butter and 1/2 applesauce; it's just as good)
1 2/3 cup brown sugar (I used less than this, like 1 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup + 2 Tbs boiling water

Preheat oven to 375. Melt chocolate. While cooling, cream butter/applesauce and sugar, then add eggs and vanilla. Beat well, then fold in chocolate. Sift and stir in flour and baking soda bit by bit with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter. Pour into greased or lined 9x5 loaf pan. Bake for 30 min, then turn heat down to 325 for 15 more minutes.

Let cake rest in pan on cooling rack before trying to get it out. Better yet, just leave it the pan. I shove it in the fridge at the end of the day, and it's even better the next day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The best teachers

Today I had to turn in draft 2 of my "teaching philosophy" for my instructional development class. I wrote a theme statement and some supporting bullet points, but then decided to take a different approach. I thought about the teachers whose classes I enjoyed the most and who made an impression with their teaching style. I immediately thought about Dr. M. as I have often in the past when thinking about great college classes.

While I was writing I thought: "Why not share this with someone who actually cares?" Dr. M. I mean. So I found his email address (he's still teaching though he must be getting close to retirement), and sent him my paragraph:

"When I think about teaching, I can’t help but recall some of the best teachers I’ve had over the years. In college, I took an Ancient History course taught by Dr. M. Dr. M. was passionate about the subject matter. He could lecture on Greece in 375 BC as if he’d lived there. He could discuss Plato like old friend with whom he’d just met over a beer. He’d lecture without notes and with such enthusiasm that he held his survey course of 300+ student in rapt attention, and we discussed The Last Days of Socrates outside of class like it was the latest and best piece of beach reading. I want to be a teacher like Dr. M.: incredibly knowledgeable, excited, charismatic, and able to bring the subject matter to life."

Dr. M. sent back a response this afternoon:

Well, this certainly makes my day, week, month and so on. The class was History 111, the first class in the Western Civ sequence, and one that I still teach and love to teach, especially since it generates comments such as yours. Above all, thanks for writing. It certainly makes the work worthwhile.

All the best,


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pretend it's Friday

...and that I haven't forgotten to post my Thankful Fridays entry until just now. Geez, I just started this last week and already I've flaked out.

1. Finished grading 37 papers, and now have evening free to study (this may sound fairly depressing, but it's...well, it's only slightly depressing). I'm so glad they're done!

2. An artist and army of middle schoolers descended on the lab this weekend to paint murals, and I stopped by today to help out. Our sound booth and one wall in the testing room look incredible! I even painted something, which I might post here if I ever get around to taking a picture.

3. I think this week is going to be a manageable week-before-finals. Busy, but not crazy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How I covet thee

I've been visiting these boots at for a couple months. They are mine as soon as I find $350 that's not allocated for bills or a new backdoor. They go perfectly with my permanent collegiate lifestyle, but not necessarily with my permanent collegiate budget.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Where the content?

This here's a test post as currently my blog is displaying no content whatsoever. Maybe I should write something meaningful as well.

Hmm, meaningful,'s 6:15 am and I got nothin'.

Hey, that seemed to appeared on the blog in place of the blank space. But why did that happen anyway?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thankful Fridays

I'm going to try something inspired by Natasha...namely pointing out 3 happy things each Friday. This is a great exercise as I've been so busy I've neglected to blog or pull my head out of my--...well, I've been busy.

1. I'm happy that I just finished the stack of revision grading that I anticipated taking all weekend but instead it just took me part of this evening. Yay!

2. My mentor rocks.

3. You know what's darn good right now? Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.

Oooh! I thought of another one:

4. Since I'm done with revision grading, that means I can use 2-3 hour study window this weekend to make a dent in ominous study pile. Yay!

5. Know what I just remembered? A former coworker used to talk about his sales job at a major tobacco company and how one of his rugged, course bosses use to call "BAM"s, i.e. Big Ass Meeting. Upon learning this, we employed this handy acronym in our office.

(Well that was quite a random non sequitur memory. I'm going to bed now.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Normal people weekend?

Burning desire of mine this morn:
Write in rhyme (you've been warned)
The topic of today is starting to gel
Quote-unquote Normal People

This weekend seemed so "normal" to me
I got things done, felt almost carefree
I didn't study on Friday night
Or Saturday night, or maybe even not tonight!

(Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself
I have to study sometime, or else...)
But the point I'm poorly trying to make
Is that I've had a quite fantastic break

I helped with painting, went to the store
Played De Blog for a minute or more
Watched BSG, a movie too
Went to the park with Augie-boo

(We never actually call her that
But sometimes my rhymes are really flat)
Speaking of Aug, she got a potty chair
She opens the lid and stuffs in Teddy Bear

Today: long awaited trip to Marlene's
Sheila and I will load up on healthies
"Gluten-free", "fruit juice sweetened", soy galore
And cheaper than PCC -- whatta store!

Later I'll work out my IRB -- fun
And think about research in the sun
(Have I thrown you? Here's a tease:
I'm going to Florida among the palm trees!)

Oh this rhyme just really sucks
It barely makes sense, even for ducks
I'd better stop now...I think I might
I'm only coming up with words that are shite

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What I've learned today

1. I love gifts of jewelry.

2. I like grading papers, but wish I could stop time to do it. Took me 3 hours for 10 papers. I have 25 to go.

3. I am humbled and impressed by the students. Reading these papers reminds me again of how, on one hand, our "native" culture produces so many coddled, spoiled and lazy kids. On the other hand, some of these students are here on their own from other countries, raising younger siblings while trying to stick to their parents' high expectations, or contributing to their families' finances, or raising children with disabilities while going to school full-time. It makes me wonder what we'll teach August about responsibility and being a contributing part of a family. Glad we have a little time to figure this out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Comes with goodie bag

I had this interesting dream last night...a school anxiety dream.

I was walking down a long cement corridor with a bunch of other people, but the corridor turned into a vertical tunnel. I had to carefully stairstep down a ladder while bracing myself against the wall. If I wasn't careful, I would fall the rest of the way down the tunnel (ouch), but if I just took things slowly and methodically, I'd reach the bottom safely.

I did reach the bottom safely, and here I received contacts at a discount, and a massive goodie bag filled with disposable razors and other toiletries and cosmetic samples. Score!

Let's hope a PhD comes with more than a few razors and free bottles of Prell.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

HD 266.5!

Thanks to Ray, who made sacrifices in the book department, we exceeded the House Diet goal by 16.5 lbs! Not only that, I think we'll have a nice chunk of change coming our way from Half Price Books.

I told Jana earlier tonight that I don't really notice a big difference in our house, but actually our dining and coffee table have been noticeably clutter-free for the last week or two. And when I get time to organize the shelves and cupboards we've cleared, I think it'll make an even bigger impact.

Ah, love a clean house.

Last day HD250

This month has been so nuts I kinda forgot about my mission. I've eliminated 180.5 lbs so far, which means I have 69.5 to go. Let's see if I can finish this thing off in the next hour or two!

So far...

Phase I
: file cabinet and office.......45.5

Phase II: clothes/shoes closet.......65 + 11.5

Phase III: linens and bathroom........31 + 1.5

Phase IV: bookshelves.......34 + 24 + 21

Phase V: August's room.......5 + 8

Phase VI: kitchen.......20

Phase VII: garage.......not gonna go there, argh it's terrible

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Well, this is obvious

If August thinks Ray looks like a pimpin' Ronald Reagan, then it's no surprise that she identifies herself as...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mouths of babes yada yada

August: Dada!

Me: August, what are you looking at?

August: Dada!

Me: The fridge? What's on the fridge?

August: Dada!

Me: I don't see Dada...

August: Dada!

Me: You mean this? Dada?

August: Dada!

Me: Really!? Ha!

Ray is gonna love this. But then again, I've always thought of him as a pimped-out Ronald Reagan.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mixed bag

So many things are happening at once.

I'm ecstatic about our new president.

I'm scared/hopeful for a friend.

I'm excited about research and the lab, and a little overwhelmed by the work ahead.

I'm concerned for my brother as he looks for a new job.

I'm sad for a friend who wants a baby.

I want to catch up on sleep.

I want to read fiction.

I want to read articles and be inspired about my project.

I want chocolate.

I want to have more time with August.

I'm happy with our little house and simple existence.

I want to find time for exercise.

I want to be peaceful and satisfied.

I'm grateful I can make lists like this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Today I've been thinking a lot of rambling disconnected thoughts about friendship, what makes a good friend and what ways do true friends support each other that actually help.

Here's what I mean: a friend of mine had a baby several years ago, and like her other friends, I dropped off a meal during the initial weeks of craziness. What did I bring? Baked ziti. It sounded fabulous at the time (heck, it is fabulous), but later I realized (mostly because this person told me years later) that everyone brings pasta to new parents. It's easy to make, transport, reheat, etc, so it's the go-to dish for everyone providing a meal to a friend. But as much as one appreciates the thoughtfulness and generosity of friends providing food and saving new parents from cooking tasks, this poor couple ate pasta for probably 14 days straight. What would've been really welcomed, my friend said and I fully concur, is offers to clean the house, run errands etc. Ah-ha!

Another friend's father was terminally ill several years ago, and she spent his final months caring for him. After he passed, friends would say "You must be relieved it's over" or "You must feel better that he's not suffering any longer." This was maddening to her: no I'm not relieved or feeling better because this whole thing frickin' sucks! People meant well, but these sentiments weren't actually helpful to her.

I suppose it's a very individual thing, but what I want to know is what do people actually need when they're in trouble. I'm told specific offers are helpful, rather than the generic "call me if you need anything." And from personal experience it's helpful to hear "I wish I knew what to say, but I'm just at a loss for words" rather than nothing at all. Anyway, a willing ear and a run to the store go a long way.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Wrapping up break

Today's the first day of the new quarter, and for the next 45 minutes I don't have any obligations for the next 10 weeks (that's an exaggeration, but let's roll with it). Christmas break was fun, though not entirely relaxing what with the snow days and such. You know it's time to get back to real life when...

1. August woke up screaming on Saturday night. I went in to rock and console her. I tried to pick her up, but she resisted. I finally lifted her out of her crib and she continued to riggle and cry loudly. We sat down to rock...more crying. I asked her if she wanted Elmo, water? She kept crying, and finally screamed angrily, "Guh wah DAADAAA!" It was all I could do to keep from cracking up. Thankfully Ray came in moments later, and as soon as he lifted her onto his shoulder, she stopped crying and fell asleep.

2. Last night all August wanted to do is climb on the couch and watch the snow pile up. "Snow? Snow! Snow. Snow-snow-snow..."

3. This morning we had an end-of-break fireworks display. I put Aug in her high chair in the kitchen and then turned on the light. Snap crackle pop...sparks shot out of the overhead light fixture. I jumped about 3 feet in the air and Aug started to cry (luckily her high chair was a couple feet away). Needless to say we're getting a new light fixture. Ray found 2 live wires exposed in the old one. Yikes.

Friday, January 2, 2009

HD250, day 2

I realized that I neglected to include the office in the house diet, so I'll add it on to Phase I. Also, it's easier to do some spontaneous purging in other phases, so I'd better keep a running total.

Are we having fun yet or what!

Phase I
: file cabinet and office.......17 + 8.5 + 11 + 9 (18 lbs going to office)

Phase II: clothes/shoes closet.......50 + 2

Phase III: linens and bathroom........6 + 25

Phase IV: bookshelves.......21 (42 lbs going to office) + 13

Phase V: August's room.......5

Phase VI: kitchen.......

Phase VII: garage.......

Thursday, January 1, 2009

House diet 250

Here it is, January 1st, and I am commencing House Diet 250, wherein I will eliminate 250 lbs of stuff in our house by the end of the month. Here's how:

Phase I: file cabinet...this seems like an easy place to get rid of stuff. Maybe I can squeeze 10-20 lbs out of it?

Phase II: clothes closet...I bet I can get another 10-20 out here, if I include shoes.

Phase III: linens and bathroom...another 20-30 perhaps?

Phase IV: bookshelves...if I enlist Ray's help, maybe we can get 40-50 lbs.

Phase V: baby, what baby? This here girl is a toddler, and she doesn't need 10-20 lbs of baby stuff still stacked in her room.

Phase VI: kitchen...if we really suck it up, I bet we can get 20-30 out of here.

Okay, I wouldn't be surprised if I've wildly over- or under-estimated the poundage potential for each phase, but a girl's gotta start somewhere. Given these estimates, I've got 110-170 towards my 250 lbs goal. Hmmm. At this rate the garage will have to be included in the diet, but that will surely put me over the top.

Phase VII: garage...where I'll have to call in house diet enemas (Goodwill/Craig's List/the dump) and guess the weight of outgoing least 200 lbs all by itself.

I am deciding in the next 4 minutes whether or not I want to start on Phase I. It's sitting right here, just 3 feet away from me. It's small, black, but boy is it a mess of "should-I-shred-this?" goodies. Ugh.

Ray's contribution: "We could drink all the alcohol and get rid of the wine rack...that would save a few pounds."
Update 1/1/09, 10:41:56 pm

Yield: 17 lbs.