Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Last weekend marked the third annual Fall Extravaganza at which we carved pumpkins, overate, and cheered for the Giants. Jaime was, as usual, an outstanding hostess, setting up a Martha- and Oprah-inspired grilled cheese bar. I made bacon-wrapped dates and apple cake, Meghan presented red velvet cupcakes, and Lynette brought mini chicken and pumpkin tostada bites. I was too busy stuffing my face to take many pictures, but suffice it to say, it was delightful.

{Cheese choices!}

After the food orgy, there were pumpkins to be carved... Ours did not last the week, and were delivered to the dumpster a couple of days before Halloween. They were cute while they lasted though.

Tonight, for the actual holiday, Tom and I headed to my parents' place in Coronado for dinner and some oohing and aahing at the adorable kiddie costumes and some scoffing at the half-hearted teenage "costumes." This time, I made these carrot cake cookies and Halloweened 'em up spider web style.

My fam does it up but good for holidays!

{Mama Witch and Papa Pirate}
{Buckley as Zorro, Mo as Flapper}

{Greeting the trick-or-treaters}

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finding Fall

{Evidence of an actual change of seasons}

As I may or may not have mentioned, I love fall. When October arrives, it's like a switch flips and all I want to do is burn cinnamon scented candles, bake apple-based treats, and curl up on the couch with a novel and a glass of pinot noir. Inexplicably, October also seems to intoxicate me with the idea that I am a goddess of craftiness, but that is another post.  Sadly, the need to work and earn an actual income often interferes with my apple-cinnamon-scented afternoons of wine and literature. It's cool though, there will be lots of autumnal fun crammed into the weekends from now until the yuletide fun begins (not until after Thanksgiving, swear).

This past weekend, Tom and I kicked off fall with our annual pilgrimage to the Julian Pie Company. Tradition goes well with fall, no?  This is the third year that we've made the long, winding trip up to the mountains to wait in line for our yearly slice of pie. I go Dutch apple; Tom goes traditional. Cinnamon ice cream on both with a side of cider donuts for Tom. It's heavenly.

{Can I please eat now?}

In addition to the delicious pie, Julian also has plenty to offer by way of quirky gift stores (Pistols and Petticoats) and a general kitschy, Frontier Town-like appeal.

{In addition to the patriotic troll in camo, please note the troll in the middle who is holding a smaller version of himself. Deep.}

{My first reaction when I saw this little guy was, "Awww, how cute!" Then I saw him pulling two overweight adults down the street and I felt sad.}

 On our way back from Julian, we stopped at Lake Cuyamaca and briefly debated a row around the lake...another time, perhaps.

Then...we headed home and I, full of sugar and spice and everything nice, promptly fell asleep. But not before I snapped these.

As I type this, a spiced cider scented candle is burning and James Taylor's Copperline just came on my fall playlist; life is good.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sacre bleu!

Dear France,
Je t'aime, mais c'est ridicule. In case you were unaware, your reputation is a bit of a mixed bag in these parts, but I have been defending you for years. I never got on board with that freedom fries nonsense. I have suggested that perhaps people (I'm looking at you Dad) should stop holding Normandy over your head and just give you a chance. You have, after all, brought a lot to the international table.

Thanks to you, the world is more beautiful (Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne), we are more beautiful (Chanel, Cartier, Estee Lauder, Hermes), we are smarter (Descartes, Voltaire, Camus, Hugo, Sartre), plus we are drunk and full of cheese (Champagne, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, etc, etc)! Let us not forget Louis Pasteur, Jacques Cousteau, Blaise Pascal, Brigitte Bardot, and the guy who invented the parachute. The cheese alone is enough to make me forgive you for Marcel Marceau. Throw in French kissing, the Eiffel Tower, crêpes, and the word panache, and I have plenty of reasons to stick up for you when suggestions of cowardice, arrogance, and hairy armpits start getting thrown around.

At the moment, however, you are making it quite difficult to defend you. Now, I am all in favor of mandatory paid maternity leave and universal health care. But rioting in the streets, burning down high schools, throwing rocks at police, and refusing to work for weeks all because you might have to put off retirement until age 62? Seriously? You guys have a mandatory minimum of thirty days of vacation a year and a 37-hour work week... I mean...really. I think we over do the whole Puritanical shtick over here, but maybe you guys could send some of your joie de vivre our way, and we will spread some of our bootstraps, nose to the grindstone, early bird catches the worm mentality over on your shores. Just a thought.


Monday, October 18, 2010


Sooo, back in July my faithful partner (in life and list completion) and I tackled list item number twenty - try paddleboarding. Realizing that if it's not documented (and posted on Facebook) it didn't really happen, I (ok, Tom) brought along one of those disposable waterproof cameras. Now, clearly I have a hard enough time posting the pictures from my digital camera. Add to that the fact that getting access to these particular pictures required leaving my house, dropping off the camera, returning to my house, and then leaving again, and you have your explanation for why this post is three months late... I excel at procrastination.

 {Unlike procrastination, balance is not one of my many talents.}

In any event...we went paddleboarding. Groupon is apparently the unofficial sponsor of my list; this must be the third or fourth list item that I've been able to do on the cheap thanks to the magical bargain wizards over there. The groupon got us a quickie lesson and then two hours free to paddle around Mission Bay. It was a lot of fun, definitely something that I would do again.

{Here I am just relieved to be upright... It seems that my instructor may not have had much confidence in my ability to remain in that condition.}

I learned that there are many ways to enjoy the pleasures of the paddleboard...

You can kneel.
{I appreciated having this option.}

You can stand.
{Why does it look like this picture was taken circa 1963?} 

{Even better. Right after this was taken I grabbed a cocktail with Don Draper.}
  Sitting is also permissable.

Even laying down is allowed.

All in all, it was a lovely way to spend the morning. Obviously, the disposable waterproof camera leaves something to be desired, but it's a good thing we left the real cameras at home as each of us ended up in the water at some point. I fully admit that my swim was inadvertent, but Tom would like the record to reflect that he "wanted to jump in to cool off." Duly noted.
{This makes the water look a lot dirtier than I choose to believe it was.}

Friday, October 15, 2010

Figuratively Speaking

Attempting to reteach simile and metaphor to a group of four ninth graders today...

Me: Ok, so we know that a simile compares two things using the words like or as, right?

Students nod convincingly.

Me: Well, a metaphor also compares two things, but it doesn't use those words like or as. So instead of saying the girl had eyes like emeralds, we would say the girl had emerald eyes or the girl's eye's sparkled like emeralds. Does that make sense?

Students in unison: Uh huh.

Me: Ok then, let's try one. Let's think of a simile and then turn it into a metaphor.

Students stare blankly in my general direction.

Me: How about another example first? If I wanted to write a simile about clouds, I would think about what clouds are like... Well, they're white and fluffy, right? So I would think about what else is white and fluffy...hmmm. Cotton is white and fluffy, so I might say that the clouds looked like cotton balls floating in the sky. You with me?

Students: Yah. Uh huh. Yes! (Alex just nods coldly as is his custom.)

Me: Now, if I want to turn that simile into a metaphor, I need to get rid of the word like and make a more direct comparison. How could we turn that into a metaphor?

Angel: (enthusiastically) The clouds are white and fluffy.

Me: (deep inhale and long pause to look around for someone to correct Angel) Ummm, no, not quite. We're still going to compare them to cotton balls, we're just going to take out the word like. So we end up with the clouds are cotton balls floating in the sky.

Angel nods agreeably. Lara draws a cloud in her notes. Rico makes hilarious eye contact with someone across the room. Alex stares at me with dead eyes.

Me: (trying for enthusiasm, likely ending up closer to deranged determination) Let's try to write a simile and a metaphor about something. How about....the sun? What can we say about the sun? What should we compare it to?

Students look at me expectantly.

Me: (encouragingly, possibly crazily) You try! The sun is...

Angel: (gamely) The sun is...yellow!!!

Ricoo: (excited now) The sun is hot!!!

Me: (defeated) Yup. Ok. Uh huh. But we have to compare it to something. What else is yellow?

Angel: Chickens!

Rico: My shoes!

Laa: (disgusted with Ernesto) Chickens are not yellow, tonto.

Alex: (threateningly) . . .

I'm not entirely sure what happened after that as I entered a catatonic state for the remainder of the class period.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Flash of Fall

For a lovely few days last week, San Diego welcomed October with appropriately fallish weather. It rained and gusted. It even thundered and lighteninged. Most importantly, it gave absolute legitimacy to the sweaters and leggings that I feel I have a right to wear as soon as October rolls around.

Now, I would never complain about Southern California's near perfect weather. I've lived with the alternative, and I have come to terms with the fact that I just don't have the mental or emotional fortitude to withstand weeks and months of steel gray skies and temperatures that don't rise above freezing. That said, I do miss fall in New England. The sudden crispness in the air signals the long, slow build-up to the most wonderful time of the year. (Fear not, I will not begin Christmas talk until after Thanksgiving, as is the rule.)

Anyway, the point is that, here in San Diego, I cling to any hit of a season change, so I find a few days of rainy weather to be a reward in and of itself. Nature, however, saw fit to throw in a rainbow as an extra little gift.

This weekend, temperatures were back in the upper seventies and the skies were cloudless and beautiful. Tom and I headed to the beach on Saturday and Sunday to soak up the fall sun.  I still get the occasional twinge of nostalgia for falling leaves and frost on the pumpkin, but I'm a California girl through and through.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Farmer's Market Flowers - Dahlias

I'm in love.  Staring at these luscious, pink petals reminds me of my spring love affair with peonies.

Usually, I regret it when I let the sad-faced farmer man up-sell me and talk me into two bouquets when I stroll up to the counter with only one. Not this time. I've had vases of dahlias in every room for the last week, and they make me smile every time I pass them.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Have a Suggestion...

Sooo, earlier this week, I took my car in the dealership so that they could fix a leaky sunroof that was covered under warranty. Fair enough. Stupidly, I agreed to also have the 85,000 mile service while I was there... Next thing I know, Harold, Mr. VM Repairman, is calling to explain the $3,000+ worth of repairs he recommends for my car. My eyes glazed over right around the point when Harold mentioned my collapsed struts and a crooked rotor valve engine coolant hose. Or something. Fortunately for me, I have a husband. This, as you may or may not know, means that I am hereby excused from making any and all car repair perpetuity. Or something.

{I cannot even begin to explain how much this sign pains me. The missing punctuation, the random capitalization...I find it truly upsetting.

I reminded Harold that I am just a silly, little woman and he best call my husband. Tom was able to ascertain which repairs were necessary to avoid certain fiery death precipitated by rotor valve engine coolant hose malfunction or other such vehicular disaster. Apparently, preventing the Jetta from becoming a silver, German death mobile costs exactly $942. Better than Harold's original estimate, but still...another reminder of why getting to choose your own bedtime is sometimes just not a worthwhile trade-off for all the other nonsense that comes with being a grown-up.

Anyway, all of this is just to explain why I was sitting, rather grumpily, in the waiting room at the Volkswagen service center. Now, thankfully, I had brought my own reading material because that which was provided by VW was somewhat lacking...

~Musical Interlude~
Ice Ice Baby. Vogue. Hold On. Opposites Attract. Rhythm Nation. Pump Up the Jam. We Didn't Start the Fire. Love Shack. The Humpty Dance.

Now, I chose these songs not only for their timeless appeal, but also because they were number one hits during the year in which the magazines so thoughtfully offered by Volkswagen were printed. That year also happens to be the year that my youngest sister was born.

{This is my youngest sister now. She is old enough to live in Spain. Without parental supervision!}

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against 1990, clearly it brought great things like Midge and the Humpty Dance. It's just that...well, I feel like reading material that was published in the last decade is not too much to ask from an organization that sees no problem with charging $356 to install a $60 part.

Lest anyone suspect that I am exaggerating...

{Remember Jasmine Guy and A Different World, aka Denise Huxtable Goes to College? Classic programming.}

{I wasn't even into double digits yet when this thing came out.}

I felt like some sort of time traveling anthropologist flipping through this thing. There was the cover story on skiing that made me incredibly grateful that fluorescent lycra is no longer a thing.

Then there were the advertisements. Remember L.A. Gear?

So, to sum up, the Volkswagen dealership has really old magazines, and they should be able to afford better what with my $1,000 tune-up.