Friday, May 11, 2007


Many of you have probably seen this little animated clip, entitled "Kiwi!". I showed the clip to Julian last night. And my sweet, sensitive little boy got very quiet near the end, as the kiwi stuck out his little winglets. Then he said out loud, "But he's going to DIE!" and then, of course, the final thump at the end. He needed some hugs and distraction to move on from this little heartstring puller.

(I have to admit that his heartfelt reaction made me cry a little bit, too. I felt bad for having shown it to him. I should have known. There is a book that always makes him cry, or at least feel sad, called "Picnic"---we have the animated version, courtesy of the Scholastic Video Collection---about a family of mice that go out for a picnic and the littlest one gets lost. She gets found again, but the scene of the littlest mouse crying and waiting to be found is too much for my little guy.)

His reaction got me to wondering, pondering, musing, even... Why was the Kiwi clip so sad for him? Is it just that he can identify readily with those in pain? Or has he experienced sacrifice while in pursuit of a dream? Is it some kind of prescience that he instinctively knows that there will be the death of some things for him to fulfill his aspirations? What does he aspire to, anyway? Where is his bliss that he is supposed to follow?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Mother's Day, or 700 Gallons

I was just reminded that it is Mother's Day this weekend. I had forgotten. It's the year birthday (anniversary?) of me purchasing my "new" car, the 2006 Honda Civic. I didn't get the Hybrid version, and I'm kicking myself for it.

I mean, the reality is that I'd have to drive this car for the next 20 years to make up for the gas savings with the hybrid technology, and this technology is new, which generally means that it's more prone to problems. The hybrid was much more expensive than the regular Civic. I don't know how many and how much toxins are released into the world in the production of the hybrid's battery, and who knows whether the Civic Hybrid will ultimately be better for the environment than the regular one. And I didn't want to wait the six weeks or whatever it was to get the thing, especially without being able to test drive it; evidently they were so much in demand that the dealership literally had none to show me.


We all know that the release of carbon and other greenhouse gases is spelling doom. We are starting to see the results of this. Isn't it amazing? Thirty years ago, it was a theory, but no one actually believed it. Those who did were far, far on the fringe. The Earth is such a huge and powerful force, there's nothing that we humans could do to change it. "The solution to pollution is dilution." But that only goes so far. How much salt can you add to fresh water before it becomes unpalatable?

It's just the right thing to do, to spend the extra money on the technology to save a little bit. A tiny bit. I drive about 500 miles a week. I get in the neighborhood of 37 miles/gallon. That's, what, almost 14 gallons of gas just released into the atmosphere. Weekly. That's about 700 gallons a year. (And let's not mention that the current cost of gas in my county is about $3.40, which is about $2400 a year.) Did I do the math right?

Okay, so 700 gallons of greenhouse gases are owned by me. I am responsible for that much. (And this is just for me driving my car---let's not forget how my environmental footprint increases when taking into account the electricity I use, the exhaust from any air travel, the transportation costs of the food I eat and the clothes I wear, the propane used to heat the water I use to shower every day, the pesticides sprayed on the strawberries I eat, the toxins released from the paper I use, the mercury released from the batteries I have thrown away, the petroleum that has been in my life from plastic bags to vasoline to ... I can get carried away.)

700 gallons a year. And according to this site, the United States uses about 700 million gallons of oil a day. Half of that is for transportation. Maybe I shouldn't be so worried about my piddly 700 gallons.

The rape of the earth is humanity's biggest sin. And how did I celebrate Mother's Day, a year ago? I bought a car. (Well, I needed a new car, and just happened to do it on Mother's Day, but still.) The biggest instrument of the Mother Earth's destruction. What have we done, what have we done...

And my husband pointed out to me that he bought his car on the year anniversary of 9/11. Oh, the irony.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Girls

I'm trying to make five pairs of socks before May 19th. One pair done, one pair 3/4 done, one pair 1/4 done, two pairs not started yet. What is this deadline for, you might ask? Well, I want to give them as gifts at my sister's bachelorette party. Not very girl-ish (and what is more girl-ish than a bachelorette party?) but it's something I know how to do relatively well.

The girl who is organizing the thing has asked me to put together some "party games". Holy cow. Party games for a bunch of women? Now, I will likely be the oldest woman there. I think I might be the only non-bachelorette there, too. I'll probably be the most awkward, and might be viewed as a snob because I don't usually mix well with "the girls".

You know, maybe I am a snob, because I am usually not one of the girls. Maybe I'm jealous, because perhaps they are more feminine than I am? Because I will always view them as something I could never be? Because I feel like a big hulking slob compared to them? My sister is one of the girls. I adore my sister, and really love spending time with her. But a party filled with The Girls? I worry.

I will probably end up having a marvelous time.

P.S. Any suggestions about bachelorette party games? The "theme" of the party is "lingerie". Ohhh, goody. This is from someone who sleeps in T-shirts and shorts in the summer, and flannel nightgowns/pajamas in the winter...

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Table Topics, or How to Tell a Great Story

Today was Toastmasters. This is an odd group of people. The organization is quite cult-ish---many kudos for getting more hapless souls members to join, weird applause after anyone stands up and says boo, weird, artificial hierarchical organization (I mean, really, "Sargent at Arms"???), stilted and often over-prepared presentations... but I do like it. Our club has about 40 members, and I am in quite the minority, having been born and raised in the United States. I love that. People's stories are incredible.

I am learning how to speak better in public, and do away with the "uh..." with which my speech is often well-peppered. I am working on mastering my nerves. It's just talking, for goodness' sake. It's not like you have to become a completely different person just because a few more people are watching.

The nice thing about the written word is that generally one can write slower than one thinks, so one can resolve the "uh" issues before they begin. When you're speaking aloud, how many times do you start a sentence without having any idea where it's going to lead, and all of a sudden find yourself at a dead end? So we say, "Uh..."

Um. So anyway.

I was the "Table Topics Master" for today. Roughly half of the meeting is made of prepared speeches, and the other half is speaking off the cuff, or responding to the Table Topics questions. I handled that part of it today. I wonder if these questions would be good diving boards from which I can plunge into some interesting blog posts. And would any of my esteemed readers like to tackle these questions, too?

This is the text that I brought and "presented" to the club.
One of the things I love about being in a community like this is the breadth of experiences and backgrounds of its members. The ways that we share these experiences is through stories—whether they be literally true or… metaphorically true. As a friend of mine once said, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

So we will be telling stories in today’s Table Topics session. Don’t worry about literal truth, but spin us a good yarn. You might even want to begin your answer with “Once upon a time…”

First question:

Because we’re all from many different backgrounds, we all have different stories or myths that are told to us as we grow up. Tell us a story that might be well-known where you grew up, but might not be well-known to someone from outside of your culture.

Second question:

Think of an object in your home that is special to you. A friend comes over to your house and asks about the object. Tell us what the object is, and tell us the story behind it.

Third question:

You’re tucking your four-year-old son or daughter into bed, and he or she looks up at you with big eyes and says, “Tell me a story!” You want the kid to go to sleep as soon as possible—in 90 seconds to two minutes!—so you begin… “Once upon a time…”

Fourth question:

Suppose you had to explain to a child a complicated thing or process, such as how gravity works, what is an atom, how is electricity made, why does it rain, the theory of relativity. How would you do it? Pick a topic, and explain it. It can be true, or… metaphorically true.

Fifth question:

We all know the painting, the Mona Lisa. Tell us a story that explains why she is smiling her mysterious smile.

Sixth question:

You are pulled over for speeding. Tell the police officer—and us—the story of the reason that you were speeding. Bonus points if you can explain your way out of getting a ticket!

Seventh question:

We’ve all had the experience that we just can’t explain, such as eerie experiences, seeing or hearing something go bump in the night, strange animal behavior, and that sort of thing. Tell us what happened.

Eighth question:

We tend to accumulate most of our interesting stories while traveling. Many of the speeches given here have been about trips we have taken. Tell us a story about the most amazing thing that happened to you on your trip to another country. (This can be a real experience, or be creative!)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Well, here we are...

First post. I have procrastinated long enough. I have been intimidated by the wit and wisdom of other bloggers I adore. I have made excuses, dragged my feet, and denied myself the privilege of commenting on other blogspot blogs. So here we are.

Me: (in no particular order....) Born in 1973. Tech writer. Commuter. Mother. Wife. Knitter. Homeowner. TTer. Friend. Sisterdaughterauntniece and other familiar connections. Occasional classical radio host. Sometimes instigator of getting some things done. Believer in the inherent good of people, which has sometimes gotten me in trouble. Unitarian Universalist. Sometimes musician. Dweller of a little town in the Santa Cruz mountains. Reader. Cat owner. Wine-lover. Too heavy and dieter. Uphill battler. Always on the lookout for inspiration.

You: Well, you tell me. Why are you here?