Saturday, January 31, 2009

a good Saturday

I didn't take this picture today, but I just like it. It's the view from our front yard with the early morning sun glowing on the trees.

Tammy and I tasked ourselves with scrapbooking today. I have been trying to finish printing out my monthly newsletters from the past 4 years and putting them together with the corresponding photos. I think I never would have done it had it not been on the "40 days" list. So, thank you, Tammy, for suggesting this one because it is now DONE. Yay!

Today has been an ideal Saturday in many respects. I love Saturdays, like today, on which I never have to leave the house. In addition to finishing my scrapbook task, I hung out in my comfy clothes all day with the kids and some visiting friends, made a puffy apple oven pancake for breakfast, drank 3 or 4 cups of coffee, played half a game of Settlers, worked out while watching Jon & Kate Plus Eight, read stories to the kids. A happy, cozy day. And, so far at least, Alex has actually gone to bed without crying or manipulating.

Good night!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Men are not against you; they are merely for themselves.-Gene Fowler

Today Tammy and I are discovering who was born on our birthday (March 8) and learning a little about them.

I found a really cool guy (OK, an American journalist and biographer, 1890-1960)named Gene Fowler. I instantly fell in love with him when I read these quotes:

Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.

What is success? It is a toy balloon among children armed with pins.

The best way to become a successful writer is to read good writing, remember it, and then forget where you remember it from.

Sometimes I think my writing sounds like I walked out of the room and left the typewriter running.

Perhaps no mightier conflict of mind occurs ever again in a lifetime than that first decision to unseat one's own tooth.

Let us, then, be up and doing, with a heart for any fate; still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to wait.

It is easier to believe than to doubt.

I will be brief. Not nearly so brief as Salvador Dali, who gave the world's shortest speech. He said I will be so brief I have already finished, and he sat down.

He has a profound respect for old age. Especially when it's bottled.

For books are more than books, they are the life, the very heart and core of ages past, the reason why men lived and worked and died, the essence and quintessence of their lives.

Here's a blurb about him from Wikipedia:

Gene Fowler (born Eugene Devlan) (March 8, 1890 – July 2, 1960) was an American journalist, author and dramatist.

He was born in Denver, Colorado. When his mother remarried, young Gene took his stepfather's name to become Gene Fowler. Fowler's career had a false start in taxidermy, which he later claimed permanently gave him a distaste for red meat. After a year at the University of Colorado, he took a job with The Denver Post. His assignments included an interview with frontiersman and Wild West Show promoter Buffalo Bill Cody. He established his trademark impertinence by questioning Cody about his many love affairs.

Subsequently, Fowler worked for the New York Daily Mirror, and then became newspaper syndication manager for King Features. His later work included over a dozen screenplays, mostly written in the 1930s, and a number of books including biographies and memoirs.

During his years in Hollywood, Fowler became close to such celebrities as John Barrymore and W.C. Fields. Fields, whose animus toward children is legendary, claimed that Gene Fowler's sons were the only children he could stand.

In 1916, Fowler married Agnes Hubbard who bore three children, the eldest of whom was Gene Fowler Jr. (1917-1998), a prominent Hollywood film editor (whose work included It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Hang 'Em High) and a sometime director (1959's I Was a Teenage Werewolf as well as numerous television programs).

Gene Fowler died in Los Angeles, California.

To read more of his very worthwhile (and funny!) quotes, click here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

best cello music ever

Today Tammy and I are exchanging selections of our favorite classical music. As a violinist, you'd think I would select a great violin piece, and I really do have my favorites. Mendelssohn's violin concerto, Bruch's Scottish Fantasy and violin concerto (which I attempted as a senior in high school), the Tchaikovsky violin concerto, the Brahms violin concerto. They're all great.

But my heart is telling me to go with my favorite cello CD. Ah, cello music. I always get crushes on cello players (including Matt Jones, my first and only boyfriend in high school). They are sexy, there's no denying it. On this CD, it's Rostropovich playing my 2 favorite cello pieces of all time. The "Variations on a Rococo Theme" by Tchaikovsky was performed by my friend Lucy's brother (John Michel) in high school and it just blew me away. Then, at Interlochen music camp, one of the concerto contest winners was a cellist (Pansy Chang) who played this piece and it still blew me away. Sorry I have no link to the actual music here, but it's too long and should really be appreciated in its entirety. Tammy, I will just have to give you the CD. :-)

The other cello piece, Dvorak's cello concerto, is just magnificent. When I found both these masterpieces on one CD, I knew I had to have it. It just doesn't get any better than this. Even though it's a digitally-remastered old recording, and thus the sound quality is not quite what we are used to these days, it is music that can give me goosebumps and bring tears to my eyes over and over.

Oh - get this! I looked at the back of the CD today and guess what year it was recorded...yup...1969.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Ground Control to Major Tom"

Today, on day 2 of our 40 day journey, Tammy and I are going back to the year of my birth and finding a song to reminisce about. I chose David Bowie's "Space Oddity." Luckily for me, the original video released with the song in 1969 is on youtube:

Wikipedia summary: "Space Oddity" is a song written and performed by David Bowie and released as a single in 1969. It is about the launch of Major Tom, a fictional astronaut who becomes depressed during an outer-space mission. Supposedly released to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon landing, it appears on the album Space Oddity. The BBC featured the song in its television coverage of the lunar landing.

I had heard the song but had never watched the video. (Funny how young David Bowie looks!) I chose it partly because the first moonwalk by American astronauts in 1969 was such a historic moment, I wish I had been cognizant enough to remember it. I have no idea if my family watched the newscast on TV. I'll have to ask mom and dad. Having just moved across the country to a new city with a newborn and four other kids where they knew not one soul, I wouldn't be surprised if they missed this event.

Tammy and I were recently talking about what it must have been like to see those first pictures of the earth taken from space, for the first time. We grew up with those pictures, and take them for granted. But before then, though everyone knew the earth was "round" - despite the illusion of a flat horizon - imagine seeing those pictures for the very first time and saying, "THAT is the earth." Wow.

Besides the fact that I really like the song itself, I guess I like it too because it's also a dark sort of song...Major Tom floating off all by himself into space...the ultimate isolation and alienation. And how prophetic are these lyrics as we confront the melting polar ice caps (and increasingly "blue" surface area):

"Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do."

Little did we know!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

40 days

Today begins the countdown - 40 days until my 40th birthday! :-)

My friend Tammy and I have planned 40 things to do together over the next 40 days. (Tammy's 40th is March 8 next year, so we will do it all again next year.) While I do see more gray hair these days, I was pleased to be CARDED last week - so I must not look quite 40 yet. Must be those little whippersnappers keeping me young. Or so I like to think. Truth be told, I think they keep me feeling and acting young while also adding to my gray hair. There's a balance to everything.

I remember my mom's 40th birthday. I was 10. She decided to have a big party and invite all her friends. We all thought it was great - an occasion only for happiness and celebration, rather than focusing on being "over the hill" or otherwise mourning the approach of middle age. Putting the dates together, now I realize she was 7 months pregnant with my brother John, her 10th child! - though at the time I barely thought about that. Heck, she was pregnant every 2 years until I was 13. But I remember her saying she felt great, and she did look young, and I'm glad to have had her as a role model for how to turn 40 happily. :-)

Anyway, for today we are reading Psalm 40. "He has put a new song in my mouth." In addition, somewhat randomly, here is a picture of my view from work today.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Lunar New Year!

We spent a very happy evening with our Korean friends, who graciously cooked us a meal that took them almost 2 hours to prepare. It was really fun watching someone else in the kitchen, though I felt sympathy for them trying to cook in an unfamiliar space and not knowing quite how to ask for some things. At one point they mentioned they needed beef stock for their soup, but couldn't find it so they just used some "spices." I showed them my Wyler's beef bouillon cubes and they were quite impressed, exclaiming they had never seen anything like it before. Well, it's not really beef stock but it's sort of close. I was puzzled at first by "bowels" and "barsamic" but quickly figured out they needed "bowls" and "balsamic" vinegar. It was amazing to see them at work - making this food for them was a combination of love for their traditions (which they are missing out on this year while away from home), art, care for appearance as well as flavor, and memories of watching their moms in the kitchen on New Year's at home.

I don't know the name of the pork dish we had, but it was marinated in a bulgogi sauce with pear and apple, and was utterly delicious. The fried zucchini and vegetable cakes with dipping sauce, and the homemade kimchi, were all so yummy and by the time we were ready Sam was quite hungry so he downed a lot of zucchini. The tokk-guk (rice cake soup) was also really good, and now I know some tricks to making it that I did not find online...seaweed (rats, I forgot to write down what kind it was, a new kind I had not seen) and fried eggs on top. We also learned about a rice punch (shikhye, with rice grains in the bottom) and sweet cinnamon drink with persimmon and ginger that was heavenly (soo jeong gwa)- and since it is a New Year's tradition, now we will have to get some of that every year. Oh how good it is to have someone to guide me through the maze of the Asian market.

After dinner we played yut nori, a Korean traditional game played at New Year's. I had read about that but never seen it. Any game that involves throwing sticks instead of rolling dice was bound to be popular with our kids. Alex played along for a while and I tried to refresh my hazy memory of a few Korean characters and grilled our guests as to the pronunciation of those devilish vowels. It was really very fun -simple enough to learn quickly and with enough surprise and strategy to keep it interesting. I am going to have to figure out where I can buy this and make it a Lunar New Year tradition.

A great night. Thank you so much, Mira and Hyejin, for celebrating with us. Wishing all a very happy Year of the Ox.

Monday, January 12, 2009

new longest word

The longest word I know used to be pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism, but today I discovered an even longer, and another medical, word:


Top that, if you can!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

adoption scam

Well, this seems to be the theme of the day. Here is an article from our local news site detailing an adoption scam right here in our state.


Epiphany, of a different sort

The dark side of international this article.

The Lie We Love

I was going to post something about how today is Epiphany. A day of revealing. Well, the above article reveals some uncomfortable truths about adoption-- sort of a "dark" epiphany.

I am glad Korea was not implicated in any illegal baby-buying schemes, but I'm not naive enough to think it couldn't happen there too. I have actually read some stories by Korean adoptees who have been lied to, whose birth mothers were lied to, and it's sobering. All that we can know about our kids' beginnings is controlled by the adoption agency. I trusted them, and I still trust them - but there is always the small chance that some details were not quite right, or were left out, especially when money is involved.

Makes you think.

Monday, January 5, 2009

thought for the day - for the new year

We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person. -William Somerset Maugham, writer (1874-1965)

Having been married for 17 years and a parent for 3 years, I appreciate the truth in this quote.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Inspired by my friend Tammy

The top 10 best things about 2008:

10. Hearing Sam sing "Jingle Bells" ("Dingle Bewws") at Christmas - sorry, I just can't get over how cute he is!
9. Gathering with family for a reunion in North Carolina, where I got to savor both the mountains and the beach - and Alex's walking sideways saying "I'm being a crab!"
8. Spending so many luxurious Sunday afternoons lost in a good book
7. Having a job I love, one that gives me a chance to give back (to veterans), to grow personally and professionally, and hey, Federal holidays are nice too!
6. Discovering a new church here and making new friends; the promise of a new community
5. Finally thinking of a way to keep Sam in his room - whoever invented duct tape, I bow to you!
4. Camping with the family Labor Day weekend, seeing fox and deer, toasting marshmallows over a fire, thinking about what I would write for a "This I Believe" essay if I had time to write it. (I believe, among other things, that family is more than biology.)
3. Friday night game nights are back! Hooray for neighborhood girls who babysit!!!
2. Precious, treasured time with Buzz, Cameo and my adorable Sparkly and Sunny nieces - it CAN'T be coming to an end, can it? Oh, Please stay in Utah!!!
1. Celebrating seventeen years (can it be?) of marriage to an adorable, sweet and funny soul mate. We are ever growing in our understanding of ourselves and each other. I am so happy he can put up with all my neuroticisms.

Top Ten Things I Hope to Do in 2009:

10. Continue losing myself in books every Sunday afternoon.
9. Party like it's 2009 at Squaw Valley July 4th - family reunion and my parents' 50th anniversary.
8. Keep exercising regularly - for me, for my kids, for sanity, and it's supposed to fend off dementia too. I better start now.
7. Maintain and deepen my friendships. Girlfriends are SO necessary.
6. Get Sam out of diapers! Please please please...
5. Celebrate my 40th birthday - and I've got some great ideas up my sleeve!
4. Eat well, following the sage advice of Michael Pollan: Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mainly Plants.
3. Play more music.
2. Get both kids in preschool at the same time on the same days? It is remotely possible. Is there anything more important, really?
1. Be ever mindful of how blessed I am.

Cheers to you all and best wishes for a truly happy 2009.