Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Night 2012

Live (kinda) blogging the election:

Here at BellyUp again.



A bit of a different vibe. Not quite as anticipatory. More anxiously hopeful.

Crowd very proud that Colorado is tending towards Obama. (I did hear a little while ago that Pitkin County went 70% for Obama)

So happy to hear that Elizabeth Warren is projected to win in Massachusetts.

Crowd booing Utah for going Romney. Not like it wasn't expecting. Just showing our displeasure.

Look at that beautiful blue Northeast section.  Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine.  Love you all!

Ugh, f'ing Ohio. Just get it figured out already.

Room is thrilled with Claire McCaskill, Elizabeth Warren.

My mantra right now!

Cheering Colorado and booing Virginia. 8:29 pm

Hating how close Florida and Ohio are.

Romney up in popular vote? 2000 in reverse?

Waiting, waiting, waiting . . .

Crowd happy with Obama's Broward County performance. 8:44 pm

Sad to see that the library seems to be going down.

Crowd counting down each poll closure clock like it's New Years Eve.

Crowd goes crazy for Blue California. Boos Red Oregon.

228 Blue 176 Red.  Woo-hoo!

John King says he's going to leave Colorado in the undecided right now. Crowd boos! 9:03 pm

Wisconsin for Obama? Ryan sucks! 9:03 pm

Crowd ecstatic over Dems keeping control of Senate. Signing Lee Greenwood's Proud to be an American.  9:06 pm

Crowd erupts as Wolf Blitzer calls Iowa for Obama!

Loving the diversity of the Obama crowd in Chicago. 9:11 pm

The suspense is killing us. 9:15 pm

F Missouri. 9:17 pm

CNN finally calls it. Crowd is crazy. 9:18 pm



Obama!!

Fox News called it for Obama. It must be true.

Nate Silver!!!

Now just waiting on the speech. 9:40 pm

As of 5 minutes ago, Romney not willing to concede. 9:42 pm.

That's because he hasn't written his concession speech yet.

Lost battery power on laptop so couldn't continue. I will leave you with this:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cashew Corn Chowder



Recipe from My New Roots:

Cashew Corn Chowder with Cilantro Cream
Serves 4
1 Tbsp. coconut oil or ghee
2 medium yellow onions
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
cayenne to taste
3 ears fresh corn
4 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice
½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (4 hours minimum)

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add turmeric, cumin and cayenne and cook for about a minute, until fragrant. Add onions and salt, and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic. If the bottom of the pot becomes dry, add a little broth instead of oil to moisten things up.
2. While the onions and garlic are cooking, husk the cobs of corn. Cut off the kernels by standing the corn on one end and slicing downwards. Add corn kernels to the pot and stir to coat with spices. Cook for 5 minutes then add the remaining broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the corn is bright yellow and sweet, about 5 minutes. During this time, make the cilantro cream (see recipe below)
3. Once the corn is cooked, remove pot from heat and transfer the soup to a blender, reserving a few tablespoons of the whole corn kernels for garnish. Add soaked and rinsed cashews. Blend on high until completely smooth. Add water to thin, if desired. Season to taste. Return soup to the pot to keep warm if necessary. Serve with cilantro cream, a drizzle of olive oil, a few kernels of corn and plenty of cracked black pepper.

Cilantro Cream
½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (4 hours minimum)
1 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 cup cilantro (leaves only, loosely packed)
½ cup water
1 Tbsp. raw honey (or agave)
1 tsp. sea salt
pinch cayenne, if desired
½ small clove garlic, if desired

Directions:
1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until completely smooth. Season to taste. Store leftovers in a sealed glass container.

My alterations: add unblended corn to the finished soup for additional texture.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Kodak Gallery is closing

This makes me sad.

I've used Kodak Gallery for calendars, Christmas cards, books, prints and wall decor for years now.  They're moving all my photos over to Shutterfly but all of my projects will be gone.  So, as a last hurrah, I've ordered 4 collage wall hangings of my wildflower photos just before their July 2, 2012 shutdown. 

Here they are:




I think they turned out rather well.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tofu with Basil and Red Curried Couscous

Tofu with Basil and Red Curried Couscous

1 pkg NEAR EAST Pearled Couscous Basil & Herb
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pkg firm or extra firm tofu, pressed  and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup eggplant, diced 1/2 inch
1 cup red pepper, dices 1/2 inch
2-1/4 cups water
2 teaspoons red curry powder
1-1/2 cups coconut milk
pinch of salt

1.  In medium saucepan, heat oil on high and saute tofu, eggplant and red bell peppers. Set sauteed tofu and vegetables aside.
2.  Add water to the saucepan and bring to a boil.
3.  Add Pearled Couscous and Spice Sack and stir thoroughly.  Bring back to a boil.
4.  Simmer uncovered at a medium boil for 7 to 8 minutes.
5.  Mix in curry, salt, coconut milk, vegetables and tofu.  Continue simmering for 3 to 4 minutes or until pasta is tender and most of the water has evaporated (a very small amount of water should remain). Stir occasionally.
6.  Remove from heat and let stand covered 4 to 5 minutes before serving.  Stir well and serve immediately.

5 1/2 servings (1 cup each)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Fiji! - So Close

Fiji! - So Close April 2, 2012 10:08 pm (April 2, 2012 4:08 am in Aspen) Breakfast - scrambled eggs with tomato, lunch - fish tacos, dinner - veggie curry We actually stepped foot into the Nadi airport today. Long enough to learn that all of the rest of the flights for the day were canceled because of Tropical Cyclone Daphne. We started out this morning hoping that we could get a helicopter over to Beqa to pick us up but they just kept putting us off. I had read in one of the travel guides that the Fijians don't like to disappoint so they don't say no. I kinda felt like that's what was going on with the helicopter. They didn't want to disappoint us so instead of flat out refusing, they kept saying call back in an hour or so. While we were waiting to get put off again, we found out that the road to the Nadi airport had been opened. The staff suggested that we go over tomorrow morning but we didn't see why we shouldn't just go right away. So that's what we did. We pushed lunch up an hour, they brought the boats back from Pacific Harbor where they had moved them for safety, we threw our luggage together and headed off. It was a really nice crossing and we had what we thought was a goof omen, a pod of dolphins swimming along with our boat. We got to Pacific Harbor and almost immediately boarded our waiting shuttle. The drive to Nadi took quite a while and as we got closer the devastation became more and more obvious. Houses still flooded, landslide debris stacked up on the side of the road, bridges that were being held together by a prayer, I even saw a dead horse in a ditch by the side of the road.  We opted to go directly to the airport and let out a cheer as we pulled into the airport, only to have our high hopes dashed when we looked at the departure board to see the LA flight had already been canceled. After waiting a short time on line to try to get a flight to Sydney, we learned that all the rest of the flights were to be canceled because of Daphne. We were able to hop back on our shuttle to come to the Novotel.  The rooms here are nice and it's close to the airport. The restaurant kinda sucks but it was interesting sitting there listening to the stories of all the other stranded travelers. Right now we're confirmed on tomorrow night's LA flight but we're also going to keep our hotel room as a backup. The bummer is that the LA flight is about the last one to leave each night, so if it's canceled at the last minute, we won't have any opportunity to get on another flight to somewhere else. 

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Fiji! - Still here

Fiji! - Still here April 1, 2012 8:31 pm (April 1, 2012 2:31 am in Aspen) Breakfast - French toast, lunch - veggie stir fry, dinner - grilled opah (I think) No charter today. At various times, we were told the Nadi airport was closed, the Suva airport was closed, the LA flight was canceled (only, according to the Air Pacific website, the LA flight had not yet been canceled)  . . . We're at the point where we don't know what to believe. We do know that the flooding is really bad. Nadi town is under 6.2 meters of water.  At breakfast, we were told that the charter was a no go. We were then offered the option of going to Suva to the Holiday Inn there, where we would be close to the airport if Pacific Sun was able to resume flights to Nadi. We were tempted but the seas were really rough so we waited.  Next, the Internet went down.  At that point, I called the US embassy in Suva to see if they had any advice for us. Mostly it was if you're safe, stay put. Wayne Schmidt, the Consul, did tell me that there are two more storms behind this one, one that looked to be relatively mild but wet and the other that has a high probability of developing into a cyclone by April 3rd. Of note, the staff here already knew about them but hadn't told us.  After a few hours, the Internet came back up and we at least felt like maybe we had some access to information.  We were trying to get a helicopter over here but by the time they finished their prior engagement, the winds had gotten too bad in Nadi and the government wouldn't let them fly. It calmed down here after a few hours but they still couldn't fly. It's possible that the LA flight went both last night and tonight but we really have little way to find out. At this point, six of us are trying to get a helicopter first thing tomorrow to take us to Nadi where we will try to get a international flight to just about anywhere. Our hope is that if we can get to any major international airport, our chances of getting a flight back to the States will be better than it is here where there's been a state of emergency declared. But, we're also very nervous about leaving the group.  In fact, as I write this, all of my certitude that this is the best course of action is melting away.  As tired as we are of being here, there is comfort in the familiar. The staff here has been wonderful, so kind and thoughtful. The ladies from the spa did complimentary foot, hand and scalp massages today. I got a foot massage. Our main concern with the resort is that it appears that the acting manager is out of her depth in dealing with all of this. She's trying really hard but isn't really ahead of the curve. We're also feeling abandoned by Bio-Bio, the trip operator, which didn't have a representative here except for the physician paid to lead the CME course, who left the island on Friday.  So, Happy Birthday to me. Won't forget this one anytime soon.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Fiji! - Show Me the Way to go Home

Fiji! - Show Me the Way to Go Home March 31, 2012 8:45 pm (March 31, 2012 2:45 am) Breakfast - apple pancakes, lunch - swordfish kebabs w/fried rice, dinner - potato gnocchi w/melted tomato We are over it. Spent the day waiting. Waiting to hear what was going on on the mainland. Waiting for the rain to stop. Waiting to hear if flights were getting out. Waiting to find out how we would get to Nadi. Waiting for websites and emails to load. The news just kept getting worse. No flights coming in. Looting and a curfew in Nadi. Flooding deaths on the mainland. Queens Road still closed and now a bridge washed out.  And yet, other than the rain, things here are fine. Some people kayaked today, some snorkeled. The spa was half price. We have power and Internet, albeit abominably slow Internet, but Internet nonetheless. Plenty of food and drink. Just lots of uncertainty.  I spent a lot of time online trying to get info and then Kim and I watched Today's Special, one of the movies I rented from iTunes. Did some crossword puzzles. And ate. And then ate again.  And again. Kim was way more active than me, going out to collect litter and then working out to an exercise DVD.  I couldn't bear to go out in the rain. We're both so tired of being wet. The plan now is to take the boat at 7 am to Pacific Harbor where we will get a bus or van shuttle to Suva where we will get a flight to Nadi where we will get a flight to LA. The obstacles are that all the flights from Suva to Nadi are booked so they are trying to arrange a charter but, as of now, still do not have one confirmed; it's still raining so who knows how long the road to Suva will stay open; and there's a moderate to high chance that this storm will develop into a cyclone (read hurricane) so we might get stranded anywhere along the way or might not even leave Beqa. We're not sure which would be worse. One of our group is planning to email the State Department to let them know we're here and ask their advice on a recommended course of action. I'm skeptical that they'll have anything useful to tell us.  Kim did arrange a little birthday celebration for me this evening after dinner which I almost spoiled by leaving early. There was a little band serenading me and a cake with a candle and a silly hat. It was very nice.  Happy Birthday to me. I guess I won't be forgetting how I spent my 50th anytime soon. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fiji! - Stranded?

Fiji! - Stranded? March 30, 2012 21:09 pm (March 30, 2012 3:09 am in Aspen) Breakfast - French toast, lunch - veggie frittata, dinner - veggie crepe Well, things are getting interesting. It rained again all night. We woke up at 4:30 am to get ready for rafting but after breakfast, as we were waiting to be told to board the boats to take us to Viti Levu (the mainland), we were told that the rafting company had called to say that the trip was canceled because the road was impassable. We were not terribly disappointed as we had spent the morning questioning why we were doing this. What we didn't fully comprehend was what an omen this was to turn out to be. I did mention that it was possible that if it kept raining the road to the airport might also close but I didn't really believe it would happen.  Silly me. After rescheduling our massages for an hour earlier, we went back to our bure and went back to sleep awaking again at about 9:45 am to pouring rain, the import of which was still failing to register. We read for a bit and then watched Hugo, by which time it was time for lunch so we headed over to the dining room. It was there that we got our first inkling that things were going awry, upon being informed that the road to the airport was out and that some of our fellow travelers who had left this morning were still stuck on this side of the flooding trying to get to Nadi. Hmmm.  Realizing that there was nothing to be done, we watched the cooking demonstration after lunch and then took short naps before our massages. The massages were the bright point of the day. I am still sore from my jet ski ride yesterday so welcomed the chance to have my sore muscles worked over. After massages, a quick shower and then dinner, preceded by a Fijian dance performance. The performance was fun but once again, the trip to the dining room brought more bad news. Now, the roads AND bridges were reported to be impassable. All incoming Air Pacific flights have been cancelled and it's forecasted to continue raining. So at this point, we really have no idea when we'll be able to leave. To top it off, the internet is abominably slow and I can't tell if any of my outgoing emails are being received. We have no phones so don't know how we're going to deal with our United flight on Sunday. Who would have thought that travel difficulties would arise, not on the Aspen end but on the Fiji end? Although I was trying mightily to have a relaxed attitude, it all became just a bit too much when I went to leave the dining room in the rain only to discover that someone had helped him or herself to my umbrella which was clearly marked with my bure number. Not wanting to compound one wrong with another, rather than taking someone else's umbrella (even though Kim and I were about the last ones there), I walked back in the rain. Could be a problem in the morning if it's still raining when it's time for breakfast. It's looking like we're going to miss the Cirque du Soleil show that we have tickets for in LA. Kim and I are ready to be home. But, hey, it's shaping up to be a memorable 50th birthday . . .

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fiji! - Around the Island

Fiji! - Around the Island March 29, 2012 9:21 pm (March 29, 2012 3:21 am in Aspen) Breakfast - coconut pancakes, lunch - salad with grilled fish, dinner - grilled fish with a fruit/citrus chutney. (We pre-order lunch and dinner at breakfast and it's been really hard to remember what I ordered by the time dinner rolls around.) It rained all night and we awoke to clouds and wind but no rain. It was really choppy out so I wasn't sure if we were going to go out on the jet skis. I waited a bit and one of the staff, Vasiti Ratulevu, who had said last night that she wanted to go with us showed up and shortly after, Kelly (his nickname - Fijian names are impossibly long)showed up with some paperwork, two life vests and two jet skis. Kelly and Va climbed on one and I climbed on the other and we were off.  We headed around the island clockwise and for the first quarter of the loop, it was extremely choppy with rather large waves. I was exhilarated and concerned at the same time.  What had I gotten myself into and was I going to be able to pilot this thing all the way around the island? It was tough holding on and steering in the chop, not to mention the fact that the majority of time there was so much spray in my face I was functionally blind. But we stopped for a short rest just past the northerly point and Kelly said the worst was over. Suddenly I'm thinking, "Oh! That wasn't that bad!" We headed off again and after a little Keystone Cops moment where Kelly and Va were switching drivers and both ended up in the drink with the emergency stop lanyard still attached to the waverunner, we headed on with no incident. We circumnavigated a small island in an inlet, motored through some relatively calm water, ventured out into a bit more challenging stuff and then stopped for another, longer rest and a snack, at which point we encountered a a few from our group, taking a counterclockwise boat tour around the island.  After a bit, we headed out again, detouring though a small bay and stopping to drop Va off at her village. Kelly and I then proceeded back to the resort, stopping to do what I called donuts in the parking lot on the way.  Excellent way to spend the morning.  After lunch, we visited the largest village on the island and had an audience with the chief. They took advantage of the tourists, parting us from our money, but it was still interesting seeing their homes. Pigs, goats, dogs, a fair amount of litter and small one story buildings except for the three churches in this little village. Aki, our tour guide, keeps joking about how they're Christians now, so they're no longer cannibals.  Another beautifully subtle sunset with the colors peaking through the breaks in the clouds. Cloudy all day but no rain which was actually kinda of nice since it cut the temperature a bit. Tomorrow up at 4 am to take a boat to the "mainland" to go rafting.  We had a bit of a debate about whether we just stayed over on the mainland for our flight on Saturday, rather than making the crossing two more times in less than 24 hours but finally opted to schedule massages tomorrow evening here instead of spending the money on a hotel room in Nadi.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Foji! - Firewalking in the Rain

Fiji! - Firewalking in the rain March 28, 2012 9:12 pm (March 28, 2012 3:12 am in Aspen) Breakfast - raisin pancakes, lunch - fusili pasta with vegetables, dinner- ceviche (although they didn't call it that) and yellow-fin tuna. Today, it pretty much rained all day, alternating between drizzle and downpours.I got a pedicure this morning and then read until lunch. After lunch, I got a massage (the back and mini facial special) and then showered in time to see the firewalking demonstration. Six villagers actually walked across and stood still on hot rocks which had been in a fire pit most of the day. As the guys were standing on the rocks, we could see the flames shooting up between the rocks.  Watched an atmospheric sunset where we couldn't see the actual sunset but could see the colors of the sunset breaking through a small opening in the clouds.  Also saw the fruit bats which are larger than the magpies (not an exaggeration) back home flying around and alighting on or really under branches where they then literally hung out before flying around some more. Two of them got in a little fight, screeching at each other and flapping around while hanging from a branch until one of them got tired of it and flew off. After dinner, Aki (the local who did the coconut weaving demonstrationa nd who emceed the firewalking demonstration) performed a kava ceremony, explaining the hierarchy of the village and passing the bowl around for every one to sample. It's a bizarre watery silty drink which does make your tongue slightly furry and numb. Kim and I snuck away as Aki was starting a second round. Once was enough for us. Glad I tried it, don't need to do it twice.  Tomorrow for the first time since I arrived, I'm actually going to need an alarm set as I'm doing a jet ski tour around the island. We leave at 8 am and will be back in time for the village tour at 2:45 pm. Hopefully, I'll still think this was a good idea in the morning.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fiji! - Starfish Blue

(again with the formatting issue. To be fixed later) Fiji! - Starfish Blue March 28, 2012 8:53 am (March 27, 2012 2:53 pm in Aspen) Tuesday meals - French toast for breakfast, swordfish vermicelli noodle salad with chili dressing for lunch and wahoo with Proven├žal sauce and parmesan risotto for dinner Another day of sun worship with a couple of breaks for rain. Read Vanity Fair cover to cover before lunch. I brought a bunch of magazines, People, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, and on the first day, one of the staff asked me if she could have the one I was discarding so as I finish each one, I leave it on the table for her to take.  After lunch, Kim and I want for a short kayak and saw a blue starfish, some pink coral and a half dozen flying fish. They were all very cool but the last made me laugh out loud in delight. I had seen a couple of solo ones on Monday where I'd be paddling along and all of the sudden a fish would appear on the surface of the water in front of me, bouncing along like someone was skipping rocks. But yesterday, Kim must have disturbed a school of them because all of the sudden there were six or more dancing atop the water from all different directions. It was as is they were putting a show on for us. It's amazing how far they can travel on the surface and how many hops they can take. I am still having trouble paddling in a straight line and am still not sure if it's the kayak or the conditions which are giving me trouble. There were times yesterday when I was paddling on my left and the boat, rather than turning right, was making counterclockwise circles. It was confounding. As we were returning, it started to rain again which was an awesome feeling, the warm rainwater rinse.  What's nice about the rain and clouds is how quickly they pass and then it's sunny again. Not getting shortchanged in that account.  After a shower, watched another glorious sunset while enjoying a glass of wine and listening to the Bula Band at the Bula Bar before dinner. I definitely can't say that I'm not getting enough sleep as we're going to bed around 9ish each night and I'm getting up around 8 each morning.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Fiji! - Coconuts & Kayaks

(Still having formatting issues with paragraph breaks which will be fixed upon my return) Fiji! - Coconuts & Kayaks March 26, 2012 9:44 pm (March 26, 2012 3:44 am in Aspen) Apple pancakes for breakfast, ordered roti for lunch but switched with Victoria (?) for her fish taco since she didn't want the fried fish (tried both but liked the taco better) and mahi mahi for dinner.  Another excellent day in paradise. Went kayaking (after a brief rain shower after breakfast) which was awesomely difficult. Awesome because it was gorgeous (wow, that word looks funny) and difficult because I have never had such a hard time paddling a kayak in a straight line. I don't know if it was the wind or the currents or the tide but I was going in every direction but the one I wanted to.  I've kayaked in California, Mexico, and Hawaii and I've never had to work as hard at reaching my destination. More strokes were spent on course correction than on forward motion. But I'm still planning on going out again tomorrow and it'll be interesting to see if I run into the same phenomenon.  Sat in the sun for a hot second before it rained again by which time it was time for lunch. The dive boat wasn't back yet so the non-divers started without the divers who rolled in just as we were finishing. Everyone got caught up on everyone else's day and then we attended a coconut/weaving demonstration.  There is some sort of borderline cheesy tourist local event scheduled for each day and the cynic in me rolls my eyes but the coconut thing was actually very cool. The local guy showed us how to open both a brown and a green coconut to drink the coconut water and then how to split it to get at the meat. First time I've ever eaten coconut meat straight out of a coconut. Yum. He also wove a "men's" basket right before our eyes. Incredibly complicated and skilled.  Next, Kim went to her Wilderness Medicine session and I went to my spa session. After a sugar scrub and a lomi-lomi massage while listening to the wind and the third brief rain shower of the day, I had just enough time to shower and change before dinner. Tomorrow, Kim's getting up early to do a mountain hike, but I just can't get motivated to venture into the hot, muggy, buggy so I'm skipping that. There is a school visit in the afternoon that I might venture out on.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Fiji! - Bula!

(there are paragraph breaks in this that aren't showing up for some unknown reason. I'll have to fix it when I return and have better internet connectivity) Fiji! It's really 8:48 am Sunday, March 25, 2012 (the iPad still thinks it's 2:48 pm, Saturday, March 24, 2012). At least that's my understanding.  Jet lag from overseas travel seems to vary wildly, depending on how far you, where you go and when you travel. For this trip, we left LA at 11:30 pm and arrived in Nadi at 5 am. It was a 10+ hour flight and I was able to sleep a lot so didn't feel like I was up all night. Kim wasn't so lucky as there was some turbulence and her motion sickness worked against sleep.  The flight was almost full. It was a big-ass plane and we estimated there were between 500-600 people on board.  The seats were tiny which wasn't a problem for either of us since Kim offered me the aisle and I could straighten my legs enough. Getting from our seats on the plane to Beqa Lagoon took approximately 7+ hours. Immigration, baggage claim (even though we were basically traveling with carry-ons, we checked our bags from LA to Nadi), customs, waiting for the other travelers going to Beqa, bus ride, temple stop, tourist trap stop (betting the bus guy got a big commission for that), and finally a boat ride to another island and we arrived. Because of the impending boat ride, Kim and I both applied scopolamine patches which made the ride quite pleasant but the side effects were killer, exacerbating the exhaustion and giving me god-awful cottonmouth. So, my patch came off (purposefully as opposed to Kim's which fell off) right after lunch and right before my nap.  Before I go any further with Fiji and Beqa Lagoon Resort, let me backtrack to our day in LA. We had hoped to check our bags in for our Nadi flight before heading out of the airport but we got shut down on that. After we walked over to the international terminal at 9:30ish, we found out that the Air Pacific ticket counter didn't open until 6:30 pm (although later I did overhear some fellow travelers say that they were able to get rid of their bags at around 1pm. Not us!). So we hailed a cab and headed into LA, dragging our bags behind us. Our first stop was the Beverly Hot Springs in Koreatown for massages.  We're pretty sure that the cabbie ripped us off since the ride from the airport was $65 and the ride back to the airport was $40.  The ride from the airport took much longer even though there was way more traffic on the ride back. I do have what was purported to be the first cabbie's information so am still mulling over a possible complaint when we return to LA.  The spa was nice enough but certainly not 5 star. Definitely pales in comparison to the Spa Castle in Queens. We enjoyed the hot springs and both got body scrubs and bamboo massages. The body scrub was very similar to the one I had had in NY. No modesty allowed. Korean women in black bras and panties scrub practically every inch of your body with a loofah and some sort of scrub.  You're then bathed, head to toe. The best part is when they take a pail full of hot water and splash it over your entire body.  I laid there, thinking do it again. Again!  The bamboo massage was nice. It reminded both of us of a hot stone massage. Not the best massage i've had (thinking about it, I don'think I can identify the best massage I've had) but quite nice.   (break for cool down dip in pool) After another dip in the hot springs and a shower, Kim and I walked to Larchmont Village, schlepping our bags. We must have made quite a scene. Not only are pedestrians unusual in the not very nice neighborhood we were passing through, but to be pulling luggage on top of it? Yep, we got some looks. Larchmont is a really nice stretch with boutiques and nice little restaurants with tasty fare. We ended up eating outside at a little Italian trattoria whose name I'll have to look up on my credit card statement (Louise?).  Then back to the airport to find an outlet (in the relaxation lounge), wait in line to check in, go through security and then watch a movie (Happy. Eh.) while we waited to depart. Yesterday afternoon between my nap and dinner, Kim and I got jet lag massages.  Two massages in two days (or three if you factor in the time change), can't complain about that.  The jet lag massage was better then the bamboo massage, both because of the massage itself and because of the locale.  Here at Beqa, the massage "room" is an open air bure right on the water, so I was listening to the waves and the breeze during my massage. Definitely plan on doing that again.  Lunch yesterday was fish kabobs and dinner was polenta cakes with melted tomatoes.  French toast for breakfast and veggie stir fry for lunch. Lamb shank is on tap for dinner tonight.  Jet lag is working in our favor for the time being. Went to bed relatively early last might but fell asleep easily since it was something like 2 am at home. Got up early too, again because it was much later at home. I'm betting that the jet lag on our return will be much more challenging.  Spent the day today laying around the pool, looking at the ocean, writing this (when the iPad wasn't complaining about how hot it was) and reading about Fiji in the Lonely Planet guide.  The resort is very remote but very peaceful. Kim and I have a two bedroom suite with a living area and a porch/balcony with a view of the ocean. There are beautiful lily pad ponds and an abundance of hammocks strung between palm trees.    The staff is all very friendly and eager to please and the food is well prepared. There are activities planned for each day but almost everyone is here for the diving (except for me and a couple of others). I'm a bit intimidated by the thought of straying too far from the ocean into the interior of the island to do some of the suggested hiking.  Hot, muggy, muddy and buggy (which is how someone who's been on one of the hikes described it) isnt really my thing. Jet skiing, on the other hand, I'm totally down for! Maybe tomorrow. We are talking about rafting on Friday, even though that requires a boat trip back to  Viti Levu. Bula is used to say welcome and hello. It literally means life.    Signing off for today at 3:30 pm. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Aspen Blind Cafe

What a unique experience.  We were led through multiple layers of heavy draping into a completely dark room in a line, each with a hand tightly fastened to the shoulder of the person ahead, a blind guide (not a guide for the blind but a guide who is blind!) at the head of the line.  Together, we all followed along as each person was led to his/her chair, until, one by one, we were all seated.  Our food was already plated and served but due to a miscommunication, I had Kim's vegetarian plate which in and of itself wasn't easy to figure out in the dark.  "Does the chicken feel like a piece of chicken?"  "I don't have anything that feels like chicken on my plate."  We figured out how to gingerly swap the two plates by lifting them up high above the table and gently reaching out in the dark until our fingers made contact with the hovering plate.  Finding food on the plate with the fork and knife was a challenging prospect and many opted for eating with their hands.  The food, prepared by the Sky Hotel's star chef, was all fantastic, a three course meal consisting of

Since I couldn't quite bring myself to plunge my fingers into the polenta but also didn't want to sweep my food off my plate in the dark, I developed a strategy of holding my left hand at the edge of my plate at about 7 or 8 o'clock and using the fork in my right hand to push the food in that direction.  Many times the fork was lifted to my mouth in anticipation, only to encounter the empty tines.  Oh well, dig in again.  Cutting the chicken in the dark was difficult to say the least and as I found myself stuffing too large pieces of meat into my mouth, I was aware of how ridiculous I must look, appreciative of the darkness which meant that no one could see me and in awe of every blind person who manages to eat in public without looking like a slob.  The scene from The Miracle Worker where Patty Duke as Helen Keller runs around the dining room, helping herself from everyone's plates and stuffing food into her mouth was on all of our minds.  Wine was identified by smell and taste and, while the majority of us had white wine, we're still not sure if some of us at the table had red wine.  

While we were eating, Rick, our server who has been blind since birth, and David, another gentleman who went blind at age 37 due to a viral infection, answered questions from the diners.  All of the questions were intriguing, although some were presented less pretentiously than others.  It struck me that being in the dark removed the ability to judge the questioner in terms of looks, age or attire.  A particularly good question regarded dreams.  Rick dreams aurally with no visions since that's how he experiences the world.  David dreams in 20/20 and often wakes up disappointed to find himself still blind.  Rick also recited a love poem that he had written at the beginning of a relationship.  I particularly liked an image he created about encouraging his girlfriend to venture outside rather than staying inside to talk on the phone with her mom who had waged a "war on her confidence."

I was for the most part very comfortable and calm sitting there in the dark.  The only time I got anxious at all was when there were a series of unidentified noises immediately behind me at the edge of the room.  Objectively, I knew that I was seated near a door and another room so also knew that the noises were likely emanating from kitchen workers or some such but I still experienced a quickening of my pulse and a rise in my anxiety level exacerbated by the uncertainty of the darkness. 

As dining wound down, the musical performance by Rosh & One Eye Glass Broken began.  Curiously, during the short musician warm up, I felt a strong urge to check my BlackBerry (cell phones were absolutely verboten due to the light they cast).  Once the music began, sitting there in the complete blackness, I was irrationally irritated by any extraneous noise, even resorting to kicking Kim under the table when she persisted in rustling chocolate wrappers.  In an effort to remain as self contained in my own personal space as possible, I found myself at various times during the performance sitting with my arms draped over my head or holding my glass of wine with both hands to my forehead, again acutely aware of how ridiculous I must look and appreciate of the fact that no one could see me. From that perspective, the darkness was liberating. The music, a mix of guitar, violin, cello and vocals, was very much intensified by the absence of any visual cues.  There were a couple of opportunities for audience sing a longs and I was impressed with how I was able to pick out Brad and Rachel harmonizing with the musicians.  The performance included a wonderful cello solo by Phil Norman entitled Paintbrush, which you can hear at gravitycello.com or via direct link at ReverbNation.

With the entertainment coming to a close, we were split on whether we wanted to be led out in the dark or if we wanted the lights to come up so that we could see our surroundings.  The latter occurred and we discussed how the realities of the space differed for each of us from what we had pictured in our mind's eye in the dark.  Some thought the room was larger, some thought the ceiling higher and some thought the room smaller or differently shaped.  We were all pleased with how well we had done cleaning our plates or avoiding whatever food we didn't want to eat (absolutely nothing for me, it was all so good).  Rachel, not being a fan of bleu cheese, had tried to shake it off her salad on its way to her mouth but had been unable to avoid it entirely.  She noted how in combination with the other flavors in the salad, the bleu cheese wasn't as offensive as she finds it when she has tasted it alone and I was pleased that the darkness had forced her broaden her experience.

When I had originally seen the flyer for the Aspen Blind Cafe, I was immediately excited for the opportunity to engage in such a unique experience and I am happy to report that it absolutely lived up to my expectations.  For more information on Blind Cafes in other cities, visit theblindcafe.com.

I dragged my family along and then prevailed upon them to write up their reactions.  Rachel's thoughts are at Giggles and Musings  and Steve's thoughts are at Americonoclastic.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

My favorite Christmas PostSecret

from the 12/25/2011 batch

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Perpetuating the myth?



I sent a letter to the editor of the Aspen Daily News today:

In her article published Sunday, 11/6/11, titled A multimillion dollar season, Carolyn Sackariason refers to the Merry Go Round restaurant on Aspen Highlands as "the old grocery store that was hauled up by the late Whip Jones, the former owner of Highlands." In an article titled Aspen Highlands restaurant ready for an extreme makeover published on 2/17/11 in The Aspen Times, Jeff Hanle says this is a myth; "The building was constructed from a kit that was apparently popular with grocery stores, according to Hanle. It is a myth that the building served as a grocery store elsewhere and was moved in sections to its perch at mid-mountain at Highlands." Which is it? 

Details, details.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Burning Man 2011

Burning Man thoughts:

The overarching impression is how inadequate any attempt to describe Burning Man is.  To try to explain what it's all about, why it's so awesome, why it's not so bad, why people go, why I want to go again; I know that I will fall far short of adequately conveying even a small part of this to anyone who hasn't been.  But, in the same spirit that took me to Burning Man despite my apprehension, here goes.

Radical self reliance, radical self expression.
Off the charts creativity (some of it at amazing expense).
Mind-boggling.
Cooler than I could ever have imagined, no where near as hard as I feared.
"Welcome home."
Generosity.
Gift economy.
Sunrise first day.
Feeling of participation due to French Maid Brigade parade.
Great weather: cool down, low wind but nice breezes, no rain.
Sand is way worse than dust.
CARCASS WASH!
Nighttime was like an anarchic Disney Parade of Lights (or a Parade of Lights on acid).
Wonderful lack of body consciousness.
Nudity inescapable (not really a problem).
Drug use not in your face.
Dubstep inescapable (boo).
Ear plugs an absolute necessity if you want to sleep.
Spray-on sunscreen rocks!
Plush fabric makes the dust more tolerable.
In terms of getting away from it all, like a shorter Grand trip where you don't have to know how to row.
At BM, you don't pick your experiences, your experiences pick you (ie, cede control).
I've never before willingly hugged so many strangers and near strangers.
Celebratory atmosphere at the Man burn.
Reverential atmosphere at the Temple burn.
Surprisingly emotional exodus.

During the weeks of preparation, a Burning Man veteran told me, "Don't be surprised if you hate it at first."  Thankfully, this was not my experience, perhaps because I was warned, perhaps because I purposefully went in with an open mind and a willing spirit.  Burning Man was so much cooler than I ever could have imagined and so much less difficult than I feared. Now, I will grant you that I was very lucky as a first-timer. The weather was the best that it's been in years; no day long dust storms, low wind but nice breezes, no rain (which turns the dust into mud), wonderfully cool at night.  Due to a wet spring, the playa surface was ideal, hard and smooth.  Due to my travel companions, I was invited to camp with an established theme camp so was able to rely on a group of highly experienced Burners to ease my entry.  Since I arrived late and left late, I avoided the 4, 5, 6+ hour long waits to enter and exit. In addition, my camp was set up when I got there so I was spared a lot of initial uncertainty and anxiety.


For the most part, at least among the people I saw and the places I went, there was an amazing lack of censure.  It is an exercise in self selection.  You're not going to go to Burning Man if you're not willing to be tolerant and because most everyone has arrived with this philosophy, there's an ease to the playa. There's also a communal aspect, people looking out for one another.  I stopped on the playa due to a problem with my bike and immediately, a roving bike mechanic materialized at my side.


The carcass wash.  What, you're wondering, is a carcass wash?  I've decided that the carcass wash was my favorite aspect of Burning Man, due in part to the fact that it was something specific to the French Maid Brigade camp and its neighborhood, our little awesome ritual.  One of the Maids brought a pressure washer.  When he felt the urge or received a request, he would fire it up and yells of "Carcass Wash!" would spread from our camp.  People would then materialize in the street in front of our camp in various states of undress to be treated to a shockingly cold and fantastically refreshing carcass wash, a fine spray of a shower as we all hopped and danced around.



Burning Man is 24 hours a day. The playa never sleeps. However, I got a reasonable amount of sleep, as a conscious choice to not try to cram everything in and because of ear plugs. The dubstep, an annoying thumping electronic music, was round the clock noise which would have made sleep elusive without ear plugs.



The dust was remarkably tolerable.  Granted, as I've already stated, we didn't have any real dust events.  But, as opposed to the grittiness of sand, the dust was much finer, a lot like talcum powder.  Given the choice between dust and sand, I choose dust.


A benefit of Burning Man for me was being forced to disconnect from my electronic connection to the outside world.  I've had a few vacations where I've had that experience, RAGBRAI, my Grand Canyon river trips.  At Burning Man , I had to unplug but I didn't have to ride my bike 60 miles a day or know how to row a raft.


Tickets go on sale January 18, 2012.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

An edifying read


Rolling Stone's June 9, 2011 issue has a highly edifying read entitled How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory which I found revelatory.  A persistent topic of conversation amongst my dinner companions is why the Democrat's messages are so consistently drowned out.  We had been approaching the topic as a compare and contrast of how the Democrats are messaging versus how the Republicans are messaging.  After reading this article, I believe our starting premise is off base.  It's not the Democrats versus the Republicans; it's Democrats AND rational Republicans versus the rabid dogs of Fox News.  It's appalling and distressing to read Tim Dickinson's analysis and realize how much sway Roger Ailes wields over the way that policies are formulated and implemented.  The graphic (on the website, a slideshow) detailing how Fox New coordinated its distortions of President Obama's State of the Union address is particularly telling.  Distort, Attack, Repeat.

A recent academic study found that the ignorance of Fox viewers increases the longer they watch the network.

Ailes' strategy exhibits an outrageous disdain for the very people who make him successful, the Fox viewers.  In turn, Fox viewers' anger and frustration is remarkably misplaced.  Most Fox viewers resent what they see as the condescension and elitism of President Obama and other intellectuals.  In fact, these are the individuals in positions of power who are actually working in others' interest while Ailes and those of his ilk, solely to advance their own self-interest, are mercilessly manipulating the Fox viewers, playing on and intentionally deepening their ignorance.  In short, Ailes is exploiting the hoi-polloi in order to solidify his own upper class interests.  

He'd make an excellent comic book villain.  The problem is that this is real life, not a comic book, which leaves us desperately seeking an effective foil. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Shuffle and Repeat

Very much looking forward to KT Tunstall's return to BellyUp Aspen at the end of next month. 

In anticipation of which I have my KT Tunstall playlist on shuffle and repeat. 

Great review of Madame Trudeaux off her newest album, Tiger Suit, on NPR's website. I particularly like "it stomps and rolls with glammy antagonism, and Tunstall gnashes through it with a candy-coated sneer."

Saturday, January 01, 2011

15 Things You Should do in 2011

Here are some recommendations for your 2011. Feel free to add your own.

1. Move. Even if that means just parking further away from your office and hoofing it to the front door. I hesitate to use the word "exercise", since that word has negative connotations for people. Here it is in a nutshell: Moving is good. It gets your dopamine levels up in your brain. It makes you feel good. The end.

2. Turn off your TV. You are exposed to violence and just plain sadness and negativity when you watch TV. Afraid you'll miss your football/basketball games? Watch them at a friend's house. Which leads to...

3. Spend more face-to-face time with people. Texting is great for brief comments and questions, and email is great for quick communication, but actually take the time to see people in person.

4. Get enough sleep. My great-uncle took naps every day of his life. He's still alert and healthy at 98. Enough said.

5. Ask yourself, "Does it really matter?" Will winning this argument help you feel better? Will it give you a greater sense of satisfaction? Only very temporarily.

6. Ask yourself, "Is this in my best interest?" And then listen to your answer. And act on it.

7. Trust your inutition. It is right 99.9% of the time. And that remaining .01%? That's the part where you're not sure you should have listened to your intuition, but months, years from now you'll realize you did the right thing.

8. Spend part of every day in silence. Turn off the music, TV, anything that makes noise. Just sit. And be.

9. Read. And if you aren't into reading, listen to books on iTunes, MP3, CD, whatever.

10. Create a budget. You know what's scarier than having to follow a budget? Not having one at all. I'm not talking about a budget in minute detail - just know what you are paying for each month, and how much you are paying for it.

11. Take your medication as prescribed. And if you aren't taking it, see #7. Maybe you aren't taking it for a good reason (side effects, it's no longer effective, etc.) See your doctor. And be open and honest with him/her.

12. Learn to be okay with impermanence. Once you come to terms with the fact that every single thing in life is not permanent, you start appreciating it more.

13. Travel. Even if expenses are tight, find a way. Even if you are a tourist in your own city or state. People were meant to visit other places. It makes your neurons happy.

14. Make a list of lifetime goals. Some people call this a "bucket list". That sounds kind of morbid to me, but whatever you call it, write down the things you want to accomplish in your life - no matter how outlandish they may seem. The fact that you've written your goals down means you've taken a huge step towards accomplishing them.

15. Unplug. Spend at least 2 hours every day away from your iPhone, Blackberry, laptop, anything electronic. Sounds easy, right? Try it.

by Dr. Stephanie Sarkis for Here, There and Everywhere, A Psychology Today blog

Monday, December 27, 2010

I AM

Tom Shadyac, an extremely successful Hollywood director, had all the toys and luxuries that money could buy but still wasn't happy.  Then he had a mountain biking accident which left him with post-concussive syndrome.  As he dealt with his injuries and continued to question, he set out on a journey that resulted in the uplifting documentary, I AM.  

I AM illustrates its message, "We're all connected" persuasively in scientific and straightforward terms.  It makes the case that cooperation, not competition, is far more important to the Darwinian world we inhabit and that the smallest of actions can have impact.  Rather than be paralyzed by the enormity of the problems, I AM encourages us to act with empathy and sympathy.

Shadyac did a Q&A session after the movie and I was impressed with the level of intelligence present in his discourse.  Some in the audience wished to take his message into the realm of new age spirituality and Shadyac did an admirable job of validating their views while still maintaining a grounded realism.  It seems to me that there is something to this idea that while we can't yet scientifically explain it, we are all connected on a physical, biological but mysterious level.  He uses an Einstein example of two spinning atoms separated by a great distance, each of which simultaneously mirrors changes made in the other's rotation.  We don't yet understand why it occurs, but we know it does.  The linear, rational being that I am appreciated Shadyac's well-reasoned argument.

I saw the movie, What the #$*! Do We Know, a few years back and left the theater feeling like I had just been fed a bunch of weird mumbo-jumbo.  It was just too over the top.  I AM strikes me as similar but much more plausibly presented than What the #$*! Do We Know. 

And taking its message to heart can't hurt.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Who do I look like?

Steve and I went to see Tom Shadyac's documentary, I AM, last night at the Wheeler Opera House, Tom Shadyac being the director of Ace Ventura, Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, among others.

As we were walking up the stairs, someone I did not recognize at all greeted me with 'Hi!  Good to see you again!"  Now, living in a small town, this is not an uncommon experience but usually the person is at least vaguely familiar. Not this time, so, as I was searching my memory in vain for some spark of recognition, I quickly smiled and acknowledged him with the customary niceties.  As we went our separate directions, I turned to Steve and whispered, "I have absolutely no idea how I know that guy."

A short while later, whilst sitting in the balcony of the Wheeler awaiting the start of the movie, a young guy across the way waved and smiled a greeting to me.  Again, no recognition.  Was he waving at me?  It sure seemed like it.  So, now I'm just wondering who else I'm going to see that I don't recognize and I'm feeling a bit sheepish about my lack of recognition skills.

The movie started and almost immediately, I saw the guy from the stairs on the screen.  What?  Tom Shadyac thinks he knows me?  Well, that's kinda cool.  But I did spend the rest of the movie wondering, "Who do I look like?"

(*I'll tell you what I thought of the movie in a separate post)

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Disappointed

Although I'm disappointed in Obama's failure to go to the mat on tax cuts, I'm still enough of a fan that I'm open to an explanation that will help me understand.  In furtherance of that end, I watched yesterday's press conference and was struck by his monologue at the end.   What he had to say was compelling and I will be watching this story develop with interest.

So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of preexisting conditions or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.

That can’t be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat. This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people. The New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America. Neither does The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Most Americans, they’re just trying to figure out how to go about their lives and how can we make sure that our elected officials are looking out for us. And that means because it’s a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done, we’re going to compromise. This is why FDR, when he started Social Security, it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify. And yet now it is something that really helps a lot of people. When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew.

Under the criteria that you just set out, each of those were betrayals of some abstract ideal. This country was founded on compromise. I couldn’t go through the front door at this country’s founding. And if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn’t have a union.

So my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there. What is helping the American people live out their lives? What is giving them more opportunity? What is growing the economy? What is making us more competitive? And at any given juncture, there are going to be times where my preferred option, what I am absolutely positive is right, I can’t get done.

And so then my question is, does it make sense for me to tack a little bit this way or tack a little bit that way, because I’m keeping my eye on the long term and the long fight -- not my day-to-day news cycle, but where am I going over the long term?

And I don’t think there’s a single Democrat out there, who if they looked at where we started when I came into office and look at where we are now, would say that somehow we have not moved in the direction that I promised.

Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven’t gotten it done yet, I’m still trying to do it.

And so the -- to my Democratic friends, what I’d suggest is, let’s make sure that we understand this is a long game. This is not a short game. And to my Republican friends, I would suggest -- I think this is a good agreement, because I know that they’re swallowing some things that they don’t like as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing them on the field of competition over the next two years.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Rally for Americans in Favor of a Return to Sanity or Something Like That

"Which is what we gotta call it now"

President Obama renames Jon Stewart's (The Daily Show) Rally to Restore Sanity.
See the full excerpt (oxymoron?) here:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
BBQ & A<a>
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tumblr

Since I have way too much time on my hands, I've started playing around with Tumblr.  It's kinda fun, the way it can gather all of my different social media outlets in one place.  As with any new toy, I have no idea how long it'll be before I tire of it but for the time being, that's where my "creative" impulses are landing.

http://iammbb.tumblr.com

Monday, September 20, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.20.10

Dear Rachel,

I had a quiet day today.  Did some work from home, got caught up on some stuff, did some (but not all!) homework.  Now I've got a busy day tomorrow, what with payroll, a conference call and class.  Hmm.  Maybe I should have gone in to the office today . . .

Not much else to report.  I'm excited for Glee tomorrow night.  Have you already listened to all the music?  I'll wait.

I've been recording some stuff on the DVR but I haven't really watched any of it.  That's not really the point, now is it?  (Not sure where the comma should go in that last sentence.)

Sucks that you still haven't received 9/2 and 9/3.  But at least now that I've emailed them, you'll be able to catch up.  

How's that homework coming?  :-P

Love, 
Mommie  :-)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.19.10

Dear Rachel,

Well, we're home but we had fun driving the TT down those lonely highways.  Steve got it up to 130 today.  That's crazy fast.  I didn't like it, I mean the car felt fine, it just seems like it would be too easy for something to go wrong.

Yesterday was very nice until I got sick.  Then it sucked.  Today too.  I drank a Sprite and ate Saltines.  I actually dozed off in the car which is very unusual for me.

Clark was very happy to see us and was pretty lovey-dovey for a little while but then Ellie went after him after he jumped off the couch onto her.  I went over to make sure that he was okay and while I was holding him, he scratched my temple and bit my nose.  I screamed at him in pain and he immediately just hung there in my hand.  Steve thinks we should just go ahead and declaw him since he can't go outside.  I'm willing to be persuaded.  He has trashed the side of the couch.

The aspens are in full yellow.  It was really beautiful driving through southern Colorado and over the pass.  There were even bits of orange here and there.

Work tomorrow.  I'm envious that you have the day off.  But, of course, you do have homework to do.

Love, Mommie :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.17.10

Dear Rachel,

Back to little paper again . . .

Drove to Angel Fire today.  Got a later start than we wanted but don't we always?  Left Aspen just before 10:30 am and drove over the pass.  We stopped at the top and then once on the way down and then not again until we hit Taos.  I played with the TT, seeing how it felt and what it could do.  On one straight shot, I got it up to 115.  It could have done more comfortably but I was a bit freaked out by the number.  115.  I then set the cruise control at 94.  It was great at passing on the one lane highways.  And I loved telling people here, yep it's gonna be mine.  I told Steve that once I own it, he's going to see a whole nother side of me.  I'm gonna remind you of your dad, washing my car every week.  That's how I was when I had the Saab.

We got here before everyone and were starving since we hadn't stopped at all.  Steve really wants to walk around the Taos square so we decided to drive the 25 miles back there and find a place to eat.  We got there, parked, checked voice mail and found out that we were supposed to be meeting up with Campo back in Angel Fire.  So we loaded back into the car and drove back 25 miles.  Maybe we'll stay in Taos on Sunday night.

It's been fun talking to everyone but then it'll get sad.  Such a crazy thing.

We met at the golf club for drinks and then drove up to Sandie's parents' house where we visited and ate.  Then we came back to the hotel where the guys are still down hanging out in the bar.  The memorial is tomorrow at 2 pm so I'm sure we'll hang out some more tomorrow morning.  

Mark really appreciated our all being here.  I'm touched by how appreciative he is.  I'm glad we came.  It's so important to be there for your friends.

Love, Mommie  :-)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.16.10

Dear Rachel,

We just got home from picking up Kim's car.  It's complicated!  And even more so trying to figure it out in the dark.  It'll be fun to drive it over the pass.

I loved your text, "You know, I kinda like being the good girl."  I know I already told you but it made me proud.  I'm sorry you missed Aaron Sorkin but I'm proud of you for not skipping class.  Such a hard decision.

Hey!  We've got a full-time opening for a receptionist.  Want the job?

Nowhere near ready to leave in the morning so I'm going to bed so maybe we can leave somewhere near 8 am.

Love, Mommie  :-)

p.s. Yuck.  Boring, plain paper.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.15.10

Dear Rachel,

Hmmm.  Last printed sheet of this stationery too.

Struggling a bit to come up with something worth writing tonight.  Pretty mundane day so not much interesting to say.

I'm glad you were able to be productive today and that you feel good about it.  I'm proud that you're making such a conscious effort to stay on top of things.  That'll make a huge difference in keeping things manageable.

Crazy stuff happening in these mid-term elections.  Makes me want to be sure that you get a mail-in ballot.  Have you heard anything about the Tea Party lady in Delaware?  Scary.  If only the crazies vote, only the crazies will get elected.

Love, Mommie  :-)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.14.10

Dear Rachel,

I'm sorry you think that you miss me more than I miss you.  It's not really a competition but it's natural that you're feeling more uncertainty and anxiety.  You're dealing with so much that's new, unfamiliar and stressful.  You're trying to navigate new expectations and challenges, all of which force you to miss the familiar more keenly.  But this is your time to explore and experience, still with some measure of a safety net.  Embrace the challenges and see where they take you!  And take comfort in the knowledge that the familiar is out there even as you create new familiar.

Envious that you have the possibility of seeing Aaron Sorkin.  Not thrilled about you missing class, though.  That's a tough call..  Can't condone it but can't condemn it either.

I had my photography class again today.  I'm learning a lot about all of the possibilities of digital cameras.  Will it make me a better photographer?

We got one of those water fountain things for Clark since he loves to drink from the faucet so much.  We also got an automated food dispenser.  It'll probably take him about two seconds to learn what that noise means.  He should be all set for his first weekend home alone.

We'll be missing the Snowmass Balloon Festival and some bazaar that they're having in Aspen.  Should be fun stuff for Grandma & Papa and the Havertys to check out.

You should call Grandma Nina.  Try to stay in touch with her regularly.

Love, Mommie :-)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.13.10

Dear Rachel,

One of the productions companies responsible for the movie we saw tonight is called A Likely Story and its log is a drawing of a "Bad Panda."   Really!  You should google it.  They have a Facebook page with their logo.  Got me thinking about what you might name your future production company.  Sad Panda Productions?  Sidewalk to Nowhere Productions?  Happy Moose Productions?  Triquetra Productions?  CharmedFreak Productions?  I could go on . . .

The movie, Please Give, was odd.  Papa's response when it was over was "Wow."  Not "Wow!" but "Wow."  He and Grandma wondered if Jon Busch was going to come back on stage to explain it.

I'm feeling pretty productive this evening since I worked all day, went to a movie, finished my homework (sorta), posted a picture and am now writing your letter.  I never turned the TV on so that probably helped.

The saga of the car may be settling down.  The saleswoman wasn't able to find any black Q5s so Kim's going to just wait until December for the blue one that she already ordered.  Or so she says.  I'm not sure that she's patient enough.  We'll see.

I guess you're getting into it, the college grind, since your texts to me have precipitously fallen off.  That's ok, I'm just wondering if I pulled the trigger too quickly on the change in text plans.

I started moving books on to your shelves.

Love, Mommie :-)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.12.10

Dear Rachel,

Oh no!  I missed a day!  I think the irregular mail delivery at the University Center has taken the wind out of my sails.  Well, that and the TV are probably both to blame.  I've been staying up way too late.  Friday night (really Saturday morning) I was up until 1:30 am even though I had to get up and go to class.  I was exhausted last night and now it's 11:15 pm.

We went to Grandma & Papa's for dinner and I DVR'd the MTV VMA's so we just watched maybe half.  Crazy stuff.  I'd never seen Justin Bieber before.  What's the attraction?  That Eminem song is growing on me.  Who is Chelsea Handler and why did someone think she'd be a good host?  These are rhetorical questions by the way.
It looks like we're back to December for Kim's car.  She really likes the blue so I think she should wait and get what she wants.  We're still planning to take it to New Mexico next weekend.  We're going to take Ellie too.  Poor Clark has to stay home.

Leaves are turning and it's getting cold here, especially early in the morning.

Love, Mommie :-)

p.s. Even though I didn't write a letter yesterday, I do get huge points for mailing your package especially since I had to go out of my way for an envelope since they neglected to restock the priority mail supplies in the post office lobby!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.10.10

Dear Rachel,

Well, I feel like I'm back in college.  I just fell asleep doing my homework.  Hopefully, I'll get up in time to finish it tomorrow.

More old school stationery.  We've moved from Woodstock and Peanuts to carousel horses.  I was quite a fan of carousel horses.

Kim found out today that she lost out on the Q5 that would have been here by the end of the month so now she's broadening her range of color choices in an attempt to increase her odds of getting one before Christmas.  The limitations of the lack of dealers in the valley are a bit frustrating.  She'd love to look at other makes but doesn't think it wise.

I'll be in class tomorrow while you are.  How cool is that?  Ok, not really, but whatever.

Clark's being a troublemaker.  Ellie got tired of keeping him in line so she left and now I'm unprotected.  He's got the huge pupils and he's trying to burrow under the lap desk again.  Now he's just lying in wait.  This is probably going to hurt but I have a spray bottle at the ready.

I'm glad you're going to brunch with Jackie and Zanny.  That should be nice.

Today was Ashley's last day.  We're sad.  We do however have high hopes for our two new hires.  You're going to come back and not know anyone . . .

Love, Mommie :-)

Hmph

The University Center appears to have a few kinks to work out with its mail delivery.  Although I have written and mailed a letter every day since we left Chicago on Sunday, 8/29/10, Rachel has only received the first three letters. It's been over a week since she's received one.

At least she's still receiving her packages . . .

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.9.10

Dear Rachel,

Grandma & Papa are here!  We picked them up from the airport and then we went out to dinner at the Pitkin County Tavern.  I love those corn fritters!

We're testing our DVR.  Since we're losing our badge of honor of not owning a TV, we're seizing upon the fact that since our cable was turned on 24 hours ago, we've only watched the Vuelta a Espana on live TV.  And we've christened our DVR with the Daily Show and the Colbert Report.  So I'd argue that we're still occupying some high ground here.

Another work day with not much else to talk about.  Oh, except that Kim heard from the Audi saleswoman that her new car may be here by the end of the month.

Love, Mommie :-)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.8.10

Dear Rachel,

I am so tired.  It's 10:38 pm.  The Comcast cable guy who was supposed to come between 1 and 5 didn't get here until after 7 pm.  He didn't leave until after 8, then we ate dinner (Steve cooked chicken.  He made tuna last night).  After setting up our new voicemail and playing with the DVR, it is now past my bedtime.  Still need to figure out why the on screen caller id isn't working and how to skip commercials but not tonight.

Cool, grey rainy day today but it cleared up in time for me to ride my bike home.  The weather should be nice for Grandma & Papa the next few days.

This letter is looking pretty short.  Not much going on since we didn't chat much and I basically worked.

More tomorrow?

Love, Mommie  :-)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.7.10

Dear Rachel,

First day of college class!  Sorry you're not thrilled about one of your instructors.  Maybe he'll grow on you.  I'm heartened to hear your reaction to your classmate who's opting to go the Sparks Notes route.  As with most everything, it is especially true with regards to college that you get out of it what you put into it.  Cutting corners or being lazy academically only lessens your experience and limits the rewards to be reaped.  This is what I hope for you, that you make the most of your opportunities and allow them to take you in the direction of fulfillment of your dreams.

I had class today too.  It'll be fun for me to further hone my photography skills.  It's been such a great way to add a little variety to my day and an excellent motivation to get out and about.  

As much as I'm looking forward to Hawaii, this trip has become a bit of a pain.  Not that I want to have to choose but if I did, I might just have to opt for San Francisco.  But as I write this, Jack Johnson comes on Pandora and images of Lahaina and Ka'anapali float through y head and I get excited all over again.  Just struggling to balance work and travel.  It can be so painful to return to the workpile.

Looking around the living room, I like the new set-up.  It's cozy.  Cable guy comes tomorrow.

Grandma & Papa come the day after tomorrow.  The weather here has been nice but it's definitely getting colder.  It was 35 degrees when I left for work this am.  But it was a gorgeous 70 degrees at lunch.  Fall in the Rockies!

Love, Mommie :-)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Dear Rachel - 9.6.10

Dear Rachel,

So sad.  I've used up all the decorated sheets!  Oh well, it only took 30 years.  I can't believe we're averaging 25 texts per day.  I'm sure that average will drop once you start classes.  Tomorrow.  OMG.  Are you ready?

I found some really old video tapes today from like 1996 and 1997.  I haven't watched it all but there's footage of you skiing and of your kindergarten or pre-school graduation.  So cute!  Maybe I'll post it to Facebook or Youtube.

I put all the hanging clothes from my closet into your closet.  I'm going to put them back in my closet as I wear them and then anything left in your closet will go to the Thrift Store.  At least that's the plan.  We finally put all the boxes in the crawl space today.  I put your Venetian masks in a box by themselves with tissue paper so I think they'll be fine.  We had all of Grandma's dishes in one box but it was way too heavy so Steve put them in two separate boxes which were much more manageable.

We talked to Shelly today about Simone.  Shelly said that Simone has already been on a winery tour and will be touring the Guinness brewery when she does a school trip to Ireland.  Totally different deal in Europe . . .

Quiet day today.  We did some organizing around the house, then Jazmin came so we went to Big Wrap and then over to Barb's parents' house to help with a few things since they're moving to Grand Junction.  Back home, where I made dinner with some garden fresh veggies from Barb and some Saturday Market pasta.  Yep, we empty nesters sure are boring!

Love, Mommie  :-)