Christmas Eve 2011

Christmas this year falls on a Sunday, so Monday is an official holiday.

Today is a “Spare the Air” day, so we cannot light a fire, boo.

Yesterday afternoon, self and the husband were at the Stanford Shopping Center — not to buy, you understand. Just to look “busy” and halfway “with it.” The Coach store was full of Asian women. We stopped by Sprinkles, where self discovered that they only carry peanut butter cupcakes on Tuesdays and Fridays, which is so lame. For the first time ever, there was no line at Pinkberry. Self almost bought a sweater from J. Jill that was 50% off. Good thing the husband decided to stand just by her shoulder as she tried to make up her mind. This small gesture alone was enough to restore self to her senses.

Son was off with his friends.  Self decided to look through back issues of The Economist. In the November 19, 2011 issue, there are reviews of two books which self finds most interesting.

The first is Ghosts of Afghanistan: The Haunted Battleground, by Jonathan Steele. Self loves anything with “Ghosts” in the title. There is a very specific reason for the use of the word in the title, and here is that reason: “On taking office in 2009, President Barack Obama found a longstanding request from the army on his desk, asking for more troops for the war in Afghanistan. He soon acceded, though not in full. According to Bob Woordward’s book, Obama’s Wars, which came out in 2010, the late Richard Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, reminded his boss that Lyndon Johnson had faced similar demands during the Vietnam war. “Ghosts,” whispered Mr. Obama.

The second is Bill Clinton’s Back to Work:  Why We Need Smart Government for a Strong Economy.  According to The Economist, “the American public’s growing criticism of Barack Obama has been accompanied by warmer feelings for the Clintons.  More and more Democrats now wonder if they should have chosen Hillary in his place, and it is increasingly common for the president’s lackluster handling of the economy to be contrasted with the surer leadership and much happier economic times when Bill ruled the White House.”  And self is one of those second-guessing people who now wishes she had voted for Hillary in the primaries.

Finally, we saw the Dragon Tattoo movie today. Rooney Mara makes a great Lisbeth Salander.  Self is so enamored, in particular, of the way she says “Hey, hey” whenever she visits someone’s apartment.  And Daniel Craig is, needless to say, a very, very hot Michael Blomkvist.  And Joely Richardson, in a very small role, is very, very moving.  Goran Visjnic most emphatically does not look good with platinum blonde hair.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Ye Olde Stomping Grounds

Self to (hapless) Stanford student at Information Desk, Stanford Bookstore: I am a Stanford grad! Why don’t you carry my book in your “Stanford Authors” section!

(They used to carry it, you know. Way back when!)

Stanford student: Oh, sorry, Ma’am! I’ll let the Buyer know!

Oh, self, you are just so incorrigible! Why harass complete strangers, presenting them with your complete and stunning un-reknown?

Self noticed in her peregrinations around the Bookstore that there were T-shirts very prominently displayed next to the cashiers, proclaiming: FEAR THE TREE.

Oh my Goodness!

Later, when self made a shortcut through the Stanford Shopping Center to get home, she saw a huge crowd snaking out of one of the stores. She assumed it was Pinkberry, but when she was closer she took a good look and saw: The line was issuing forth from the Giants store.


If only self hadn’t been in so much of a rush to get home, she would have pulled over and taken a picture.

Anyhoo, here are some pictures self took at the Cantor Arts Center this afternoon:

Main Entrance, Cantor Arts Center

Cool. Sculpture in a Courtyard, Cantor Arts Center

Rodin Sculpture Garden, Stanford

The current exhibit is “Mami Wata:  Arts for Water Spirits in Africa and Its Diasporas” (Definitely got self’s creative juices flowing!)

On her way out, self picked up a flyer for “Ayiti Pap Mouri!”, a Haitian Dance, Music and Art Festival coming up Nov. 18 – 21 in San Francisco’s Dolores Park.  For more info:

Stay tuned.

Tonight: “1000 Ways to Die”

Self, it’s taken you so long, so many decades of your life, but you have finally discovered the way to get on the good side of Dearest Mum:

Never, ever say no.

Last night, self and niece G and Dearest Mum and all the relatives within 50 miles were in Lobster Shack.  Self splurged on a $30 bottle of Wild Horse Central Coast Chardonnay recommended by the waitress.  Considering that self and niece had already had two beers apiece before dinner, by the end of the night we were both flyyying high!  Telling stories about McCain, Tea Parties, niece’s dad, her roommates, you name it!

Today, self wondered whether she should give Dearest Mum a call.  But no!  She decided instead she would go to the Stanford Shopping Center and buy herself some Estee Lauder night cream!  Then she decided to get an extra jar for Dearest Mum.  Then, she just had time to drive home, and wrap up the cream in loads of gold tissue paper, before one of self’s aunts called (Dearest Mum has her own cell phone but she never, of course, deigns to use it, so it is always one of self’s aunts who calls and then passes on the phone to Dearest Mum)

Whacha doing, aunt inquires.

Self:  Nothing.

Aunt:  Oh, ’cause your Mom wants to see you.

Self:  Fine!  I am doing absolutely nothing.

Aunt:  So it’s OK for us to drop by?

Self:  Of course!  Anytime!  I am absolutely available!

After aunt hung up, self went flap-flap-flap all over the house, sweeping, washing counter-tops, dumping buckets of water on plants, feeding li’l crits, combing her hair, changing into decent clothing, hiding the ugly sneakers she uses around the house, spritzing air freshener into all the bathrooms, etc etc etc

Self was just wrapping up watering the front lawn when aunt pulled up with Dearest Mum.  Then we went inside.

“Want water?” self inquired.  Turns out Dearest Mum had just treated all to the most humongous lunch of:  grilled pompano; lumpia; fried rice; pinakbet; and so many other dishes that self could not remember them all.  Where oh where was this fabulous repast?  Self could not get an answer out of her aunt, her uncle, or Dearest Mum.

Anyhoo, Dearest Mum had bought self about 20 blouses from Nordstrom’s Rack, in the most fabulous colors:  lime green, orange, yellow etc etc  (Oh Dearest Mum, if you had dressed self before her reading last February, that blogger would not have said self looked like a “grandma”!!!).  Normally, self would have resisted such clothing.  Today, she finally applied her hard-won wisdom:  Yes!  Yes!  More lime green!  More orange!  More yellow!  More!

After Dearest Mum left, self tried to get back to her usual routine, but after a whirlwind like that (Self also just learned that on their first night in New York, she and Dearest Mum are attending a wedding reception —  in Grand Central Station.  What?  Self never heard of a wedding reception in Grand Central before!  Dearest Mum inquired:  Do you have anything to wear?  Self mumbled, Ah, a dress?  Dearest Mum thought for a minute:  “I seem to remember you have a pantsuit,” she remarked.  “Yes … ” self replied.  “In black?”  Dearest Mum asked.  “Yeeees,” self replied.  “Good.  Wear that.”  Okey-dokey!)

Good thing, after hubby gets home, he starts watching something on the History Channel about snipers.  Self watches while the Marines send two men to hunt and kill a vicous Viet Cong squad leader (a woman, it turns out), with code name “Apache.”  Okay, after watching how the Marines hunt and kill this woman, hubby next turns to that edifice of tasteful programming, Spike TV.  And here we are on a show called “1000 Ways to Die.”

Want to know what a Spanish Donkey is?  It’s a method of torture devised in the Inquisition, which involves putting cannonballs on the victim’s feet (up to 400 lbs. worth of cannonball), and positioning the victim over a sharp wooden platform.

Ever heard of anyone being killed by a pigeon?  After watching the show, you will say yes.

Ever known what happens when you drink denture cleaner?

Ever known what happens when you give mouth-to-mouth to a dead raccoon?

Dear blog readers, it has been such an entertaining day.  Self believes she will land in New York bananas, absolutely bananas.

Stay tuned.

Another Earthquake! First Most Gorgeous Day of 2010

The sun is out!  The sun is out!  The sun is out!

There was another earthquake, also centered in Milpitas.  This one self didn’t feel at all.  It was slightly weaker than the one yesterday  —  measured 3.8 on the Richter Scale.

Self met Connie D, who she had not chatted with since son’s graduation from St. Raymond, a decade ago.  Connie has re-married, her younger child is graduating this year from Sonoma State, and she now has her own beagle, a beautiful girl named Bailey!  Who, needless to say, has a svelte figure (just like her owner) and looks to be about half Gracie’s size.

Afterwards, self drove to the Stanford Shopping Center.  And it only took three circuits of the parking lot before self found a space.  And she of course headed straight for Pottery Barn.  Which had a very meager sale.  Unfortunately, curtain rods and finials and drapes were not on sale.  Self did have fun looking at the sheer white curtains —  one striped pattern was so yummy-licious!  And at $29 a panel (Self only needs two) was not outrageously expensive.  Self also looked at bath towels.  And sofa cushions.  And she ended up getting a pewter expandable curtain rod with square finials, and a beautiful Tuscan vase (originally $39, on sale for $19).  As she was paying, the saleswoman exclaimed, “Oh you got one of these!” (meaning the vase).  A customer who was also waiting to pay said, “What is it?”  And the saleswoman said, “It’s one of the Tuscan vases.  And it took forever for these to go on sale!  A customer bought the biggest one, just yesterday!”  So self felt extremely lucky and happy.  And she already had something to put in the vase, for as luck would have it, self had some long curlicue stems (of a plant called spirea?) that Dearest Mum had given to self, purchased from a vendor at the Ferry Building Farmers Market, three years ago. Self had kept them stashed behind an old chair because she didn’t have a vase that was big enough.  But now she does!  Happy happy joy joy!

And after self got back home, she was able to catch “Oprah.”  And she cannot imagine anyone being able to fill this woman’s place, as Oprah had an array of women guests, all of whom were living perfectly ordinary lives until their husbands revealed themselves to be either:  a) serial philanderers; or b) criminals wanted by the U.S. government.  And all these excellent women described how they’d just had to “suck it up,” but all of them, in glam make-up and fabulous hair, looked as if they had indeed triumphed over adversity.

Self even managed to walk the dogs!  And Gracie, though panting, was actually able to walk on her own to the water dish after the walk was over.

Plan for the weekend?  Self thinks she will try convincing hubby that he can sit through “The Young Victoria,” showing at Palo Alto Square off Page Mill Road.

If that fails, self can always watch her Netflix movie, which arrived a few days ago, and which she hasn’t yet had the chance to view:  “Away We Go,” with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

3rd Friday of March, Sweltering

First of all, self would just like to say that she is really, really sorry over the loss of Natasha Richardson, who was so excellent in the Patty Hearst movie, who could have gone the whole “Hollywood glam” route but instead chose her roles sparingly, cared for her family, and died Wednesday, much too young.

Now, then: Today is Friday, and instead of rain (which Ch. 7 weather person predicted would arrive today), the day is sweltering. Self spent the whole morning cocooned in her room, working (aka “writing”). Which makes this a good day.

Last night, self ordered pizza for dinner, using a coupon which had just arrived in the mail, for New York pizza on El Camino in San Carlos. In an hour, a large combination pizza was delivered, and it smelled heavenly. She’d barely taken the first bite when hubby walked in, unexpectedly early. Are the gods smiling on her or what? Who knew that he’d walk in so unexpectedly early and that self would be all ready with a hot pizza?

So, after hubby came home, there were the NCAA games to watch, and it was marginally exciting: self didn’t know any of the teams playing, and the only team she had any kind of vested interest in (Berkeley) was upset earlier in the day.

Anyhoo, yesterday was not a very good day, for self was so distracted at the thought of having to pay $145 to her dentist and having some cavities filled that she couldn’t think. Couldn’t write. Ended up going to Macy’s at the Stanford Shopping Center. Bought an Estee Lauder vibrating mascara wand (Self kids you not: the display on the Estee Lauder counter has that mascara wand twirling like a top: it’s supposedly wonderful at spreading mascara over one’s eyelashes!). As a “gift with purchase,” she received a pack said to be worth $75, but all it contained were: a miniscule moisturizer (SPF 15), a wee lipstick in some bronze-y coral shade, play mascara, and a tiny eyeshadow compact. Hmmph! Self went home, kicked herself and thought that she’d better STOP FOOLING AROUND or she’d end up in all kinds of trouble.

Then, she sat down, opened the latest NYTBR, and saw there the name of a person who she met at VCCA, who was said to have written a book in only the three weeks of residency. Much gnashing of teeth ensued. Much jealousy. Much pulling out of the hair. Fortunately, by the time hubby came home, all that was behind self. She had composed herself and was able to give a reasonable facsimile of an ambulatory wife.

This morning, she worked like a demon. The awful thing about working like a demon is: you can work your butt off and still no one will want to publish what you write. Such are the vagaries and insecurities of the writer’s life. That’s why self so much prefers spending time in her garden.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

The Latest

Dearest Mum asked self to meet her this afternoon in the Stanford Shopping Center. After circling around the parking lots for half an hour, self swore to herself (through gritted teeth): No way am I getting out of here without getting something.

Aunt who was with Dearest Mum informed self that her step-daughter was currently “on shift” at Williams Sonoma, so self headed there. And caught the dear girl (dressed all in black, even down to tights and flats, and sporting a fetching, new “Posh Spice” bob) bending over one of those $200 Calphalon non-stick roasting pans. “Now,” self told her, teasingly, “I would like the most expensive item in the store, at 90% discount.”

“The sale tables are in the back,” the girl said, with not a trace of irony.

Yikes! She must be super-stressed this afternoon!

Pretty soon, Dearest Mum and aunt showed up, and both women professed an urgent need to check out Nordstrom’s. So we walked to the other side of the shopping center, and Dearest Mum was munching on a box of See’s butterscotch squares that aunt had kindly plied her with, and then she started choking. And choking. And choking. And self had a glass of water handy (Good thing aunt had given this to self, just before scooting off somewhere to fetch her hubby), and then Dearest Mum confided that she always has that reaction when she eats butterscotch squares. And then self wondered why aunt, who knows everything about Dearest Mum, keeps plying her with these choke-inducing morsels?

Thankfully, self and Dearest Mum arrived at Nordstrom’s without further incident. It turned out that Dearest Mum was greatly desirous of purchasing the exact same lipstick that self had been wearing last Friday, at the reading of Brian Dempster and Jay Dayrit at the Chinese Cultural Center on Kearney. Self had no idea what lipstick she was wearing, but aunt (who had suddenly popped up, like a veritable Jack-in-the-Box) became adamant that we find the exact same shade, and then Dearest Mum started mushing all sorts of violet and red shades on self’s lips without the benefit of a lip brush or a mirror, and to all the different shades she had the same reaction: No, that’s not the one. Eventually self was able to escape and hie her mangled lips over to a Kleenex box that a kind cosmetics counter girl held out to her. And, my, now she knows that she doesn’t need the Botox to have lips like Angelina Jolie’s, all she needs is a very determined mom and aunt.

After that, it was on to the handbag section. And aunt immediately zoomed in on a woven straw Juicy Couture tote, with leather handles and all sorts of zippers and gew-gaws. And Dearest Mum exclaimed at how cute it was. And self did a desultory pawing of other bags, but she got a heart attack each time she looked at the prices, because even at 50% off, all the bags self looked over were at least $300. And then, a miracle occurred: aunt put down the woven straw bag, and self took a peek inside and saw that it was only $100 on sale. And it was indeed the cutest thing. And she suddenly burst out with: “I’ll take it!” And Dearest Mum and aunt stared at self with purest hate and envy and Dearest Mum said, “Since when have you liked going shopping???”


So now, self is home. And her happiness is complete because, right after tossing Juicy Couture tote to the very highest shelf of her closet, she opened her e-mail and found therein a message from sole fruit of her loins, presently cooling his heels in Valladolid, Spain. And here is an exact quote from his e-mail:

MOM!!! It’s insane here! Internet access may be spotty, but it’s working for now.

SPAIN WON EURO 2008! There was massive celebration! Everyone lit a cigarette at the same time to celebrate, it seems. I couldn’t breathe. Also, 65% of Spain is currently drunk.

Gotta run!

And with that, self bids loyal blog readers Good Night.

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