Sunday, December 30, 2012

Out With The Old & In With The New

For any folks who are wondering about the little cottage...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Everything Old is New Again: Leaving The County for The Country

I am sitting here, thinking I should be saying something holiday-ish.  Right now, December is feeling very slow and long.  I know that not everyone feels this way (especially not the people in the mall parking lot), but I am ready to have Christmas.  I'm tired of waiting.

We travel away from our home every Christmas.  We leave a nice housesitter to enjoy our decorations and our home, and we rush away towards Christmas Part 2.  This year, Christmas, The Sequel, is taking place at the cottage in Canada.

Sequel?  Yes.  We've decorated and celebrated and partied and Nut Crackered.  We've already eaten too much, drank too much and surpassed our set budget for holiday spending.  The bags are mostly packed, the presents mostly bought and there is only danger in shopping from here.

More importantly, when we go to the cottage, it is a lot like Country Mouse and City Mouse.

Let me explain.  We live in Marin County.  Sometimes it is referred to as "the bubble" in the Bay Area.  Everything is clean, green and manicured--both lawns and men and ladies.  Oh, and dogs and little toddler girls, too!  Vegetables are freshly picked and prepared at local restaurants.  Northern California wine flows like water.  Gournet grocery stores beckon you from every corner.  A fresh, open air farmer's market can be found daily.

Then we separate from our reality and get on an airplane to experience another reality.  We will arrive to a hopefully snowy, deep freeze of a landscape and then it is time to decorate and bake and re create Christmas for the second time in December.  I'm looking forward to it, but on the Wednesday before we travel, frankly, it sounds like a lot of work.  All of our Christmas is in about 6 suitcases and duffel bags.  Not all of it, we have plenty of decorations  awaiting us in the country.

I have travel anxiety.  Like I've said before, I'm not afraid my plane will crash or anything, I just am not very good at transitions.  Once we make it to the airport, check our bags, get through security, get on the plane, realize we are all in middle seats scattered throughout the plane, get delayed, frantically race to our next connection, arrive and our bags do not, get the rental car and begin our coutry road trip and drive two hours away from civilization, I will be fine and feeling on top of things.

City Mouse:
Oops, forgot the organic, locally sourced buttermilk.  Grab the keys and hit the corner market.  Back home in 5 minutes.

Country Mouse:
Uh oh, forgot the organic buttermilk, look in the Betty Crocker cooking bible for a substition that includes cider vinager that's been in the cupboard for 10 years.

City Mouse:
Oops, running out of underwear.  Look in clothes basket.

Country Mouse:
Uh oh, only got one bag at the airport, my underwear is not in that one bag.  Wash the underwear I'm wearing every night until my bag is dropped off at the local combination post office, fishing license, putt putt golf and grocery store a half an hour away.

City Mouse:
Oops, the cable is not working.  Call Comcast.

Country Mouse:
Uh oh, the electricity is out.  Better build a fire, get snow to melt for water and hit the sub zero outhouse.  It could be days until a work crew gets out our way.

City Mouse:
Oops, we are out of Merry Edwards Pinot Noir.  Once again, 5 minutes to the local grocery. Buy it and stick it in the sub zero fridge.

Country Mouse:
Uh oh, we are out of Merry Edwards (not hard to do what you are only allowed to bring in two bottles of wine per adult).  Now we must brave our local LCBO and be at the Canadian Government's mercy. Bottles of wine that we pay $5.00 for in California are $17.99 plus tax.  On a positive note, it does curb the wine consumption--$5 wine is still tasting like $5 wine no matter how much you charge for it.

Whether you be in the city or the country, happy holidays to you!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Canadian Chronicles: Women's Studies Classes and Pre Christmas Hoopla 2012

This holiday post begins with a little un-related holiday back story.  When I was studying for my undergrad degree at the University of Michigan, I met with my college counselor.  I only met with a counselor once in my whole undergrad history.  He was a basic, old, overweight white guy.  He looked at my transcript and questioned the number of Women's Studies courses that I was taking.

I told him that I intended to double major in Communications and Women's Studies.  There was nothing more interesting to me in all of the classes at Michigan that I was taking as a fired up discussion in one of my Women's Studies classes.  Everyone in the class was super smart, passionate and involved.  I learned all kinds of things.  My horizons were broadening.

He shook his head and stared at my transcript.  He looked up over his reading glasses, his tired eyes met mine and he said, "You definitely should not major in Women's Studies.  Anyone seeing that as your major will assume that you're a lesbian and then they will not hire you."

I left our meeting confused.  What did he mean by people thinking I was a lesbian?  Was that bad?  I went to my next class, Women in Art, and looked around at my awesome classmates.  It's true, there were a lot of comfortable shoes.  I guess I knew a couple of them to be lesbians, but were they all lesbians?  And, so what if they were?  I didn't care.  I just like the class and its content.

In the late 80's, his remarks did give me pause.  I did want to get a job, so even though I took a hefty load of Women's Studies Department classes, I never declared it as my major.  It's amazing how one little comment, can shade your thinking.  I didn't even care if someone did think I was a lesbian, but I did need that post grad job.

Flash forward to a ride in the car with my 14 year old daughter.  We were talking about education and opportunities.  She was questioning why I chose to be a stay at home mom.  I mean, if I was preaching quality education and equating it to choice, why didn't I have some super high powered career?  Why had I failed my own mantra?  How can I even begin to give advice on women's choice?

Well, baby, I made the "mother" of choices.  I was a junior high teacher and a preschool teacher...I believe in education so much that I've been a crusader for the excellent private programs that we sacrifice much financially to send our kids to.  I always thought I would live in a trailer park, and I was fine with that.  I really didn't need much.  I didn't have dreams of wealth and riches.  It's not what I'm about--there's a lot about that here where I live, but that's not my story.

We are making our way to a remote cottage in the woods for Christmas.  It is hours away from actual stores that you could buy presents from.  I am bringing Christmas with me in duffel bags.  As I work on orchestrating what we need for the holiday, I realize I am challenged.  I realize there are people that depend on me.  I realize that I teach every single day in all kinds of different ways.  I love being a stay at home mom.  I am lucky to be doing the job that I chose!

I also totally support the women who work outside of the home.  Sometimes it's a choice, sometimes it is not.  Life is a funny path, and you sometimes end up somewhere you didn't even know you were going.  I consider myself very fortunate to be somewhere that I like being, and if I didn't like it, I would try to be doing something else.

I do believe education can give you choice in your life.  I also want to wish holiday peace to the old white guy if he's still out there.  Mister Counselor, how many things in your life didn't you do because of what somebody said or what you were afraid of someone thinking?  I am going to make it my mission to make sure my kids know, lesbian or not, go for it, don't be afraid.  If they don't want to hire you because of something like that, keep looking!

Now, time to pack more stuff into the duffel bags.  We are off to a Canadian adventure, and I'm going to take you all with me!  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Girl's Day 2012--New Holiday Traditions & Old

We had an action packed day of San Francisco fun. We began with an elegant brunch at the Palace. We moved on to our annual Christmas visit with Santa at Macy's.

We saw an excellent production of A Christmas Carol. Then it was to Presidio Social club for a delicious dinner.

This is at least our 5th year of skipping school and taking a little holiday.
Skipping school and writing letters to Santa at Macy's way back when? Kindergarten year, 6 years ago!  2006???
Yet, another mystery year of letter writing.  I am going to have to use my sleuthing to figure this all out!

Again, another year at Macy's, this was our trip last year when Birk was 10.
2012 and thinking about what to put on that list!
At 11, still not too old to write and mail a letter to Santa.  I saw the list, oh  boy!  That's a post in itself.

The girls all grown up!  Celebrating the Christmas spirit in style.

One of the fabulous gingerbread diorama's at the Palace.  This one is a ski hill.

Gingerbread creation of a roof top garden.
Go Giants!
The beautiful, giant tree in the center of the Palace Garden Court.

We had an extra special treat on our girl's day, Nana!

Christmas wishes from us to you!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pet Treats: Why My Pet Eats Better Than Most Of You People Out There

Today I was looking for some kind of magical, non-destructible chewing device for Roxy, our 11 month old puppy, in our local pet shop.

Here is how it usually goes:

1.  We buy her a toy stuffed toy, let's say, this week it's a gingerbread boy.
2.  She chews its eyes off in less than 1/2 an hour.
3.  One hour later, she is carrying an arm around, no body to be found.
4.  One and a 1/2 hours later, all that is left is a mound of fluff spread throughout the house.

In hopes that her "puppy phase" would be over soon (you can all stop laughing now, I realize it could go on until she's two or more) I slowed down on the purchase of chew toys.  We have a few ragged soldiers that look like they've seen a couple of tours in her toy box.

The purchase of treats have also slowed down.  She was really getting that going pee outside idea.  I slowed down on the treats and the long walks.

How fast can you say....backfire???

Anyways, I was trying to right my wrongs, so I was looking at the chew bones.  It was like a gourmet deli:  grass fed, free range bison chews; duck feet, all natural, humanely treated (until they chopped off its feet);  organic chicken jerky treats.

I was surrounded by a plethora of natural, organic, free range, whole meat, whole bone, no filler wonderland of treats.

What topped it off?  The store clerk showing me the chews from Nepal.  Yes, even you and I could eat these all natural treats.  In fact, PEOPLE in Nepal do eat these treats all of the time, for food.

Well, if it's good enough for those people in Nepal...

Good grief, Charlie Brown!