Thursday, March 27, 2008

do you know this guy?

his name is Wayne Allyn Root and he is running for president. what? you've never heard of him? he is the front runner for the libertarian party...oh my goodness, really? never heard of him? well...let me just get a little political here.

it is coming up on tax time and i am more than a little constipated about it. after last year's tax bomb (we ended up owing over $30,000 in taxes, $20,000 of which was blindsiding) i am feeling a little sick to my stomach about what my accountant is going to say. being a small business owner and being a moral business owner and doing everything by the books is not only challenging, it can be next to impossible, which is why most small businesses fail in less than 3 years. but, small businesses also employ more people than "big business" (not including govt organizations of course). why do our politicians constantly ignore us then? why would government try to stifle one of the biggest economic group of people and make it increasingly difficult for us? wayne allyn root is a small business owner and part of his platform is to make it easier for us.

it isnt just about money either. i think with the whole recent court judgement on home-schooling, we are beginning to see just how big government has become. that they are now proposing to take the power out of parents on how to raise their own child. whatever your feelings on homeschooling may be, it should be upsetting that the government is trying to butt in parent's lives in this way.

when i turned 18 i registered republican and thought that the republican party still stood conservative and small government, which is why i was outraged that our republican president of the last 7 years has grown government more than any other president in recent times. i registered libertarian about 4 years ago when i was finally fed up at the republican party not living up to their promises and talk talk talk.

our government was founded by politicians who knew the danger of big government. who came from a place that tyrannized the common man and wanted to give the majority the vote. now all i see is that the people are speaking and then the federal government turns a blind eye to the voice and overrules it.

anyway - wayne allyn root. remember him. i believe he will be the libertarian candidate and if you are fed up with all the talk and big government, then maybe you should look into this little up and coming party as can start here.

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

is it just me (well, me plus the fact i live in southern california) or did spring just show up one day and say, "here i am! step aside winter" (or whatever you call the colder wetter months in california). at any rate we realized it was already time to start dreaming up and planting our garden. we planted a couple of weeks ago and today i saw the first true leaves of my rows. it is always so exciting. it truly is a little type of miracle that you can put a little seed in the ground and out shoots food in a couple of months or so.

i left all the digging and hard labor up to bryan and i enjoyed the sowing and labeling my rows and spacing. i added some new "crops" as well - some cantaloupe, watermelon and cucumber and thai peppers to my usual - squash, carrots, lettuce, spinach, corn, peas, beans, onions and pumpkin. it is almost time to thin the rows, which is always a little sad to do - to pick out the lesser developed of the seedlings and toss them aside - i had so much trouble doing it last year that i ended up with overcrowded rows and miserable carrots, so i am going to try to be tougher on them this year. i am going to pick my team and not feel bad for the runts - we may be more p.c. now, but it doesnt count in gardening at least.

i had to send my camera in to warranty because some functions weren't working otherwise i would have some pictures to show the progress. hopefully i will get it back shortly before my little guys get too big. oh, and i didnt label this blog as a hobby because i certainly cant claim it like my husband can. bryan studies this hobby - he watches the gardening shows and buys the magazines and orders rare palm seeds from the internet and also ladybugs and praying mantis'. this year we are going to get some worms and throw them in the mix and then when fishing season comes we will try to find them all and use them for bait to catch trout. what a fulfilling life dont you think? they will not only help fertilize our garden, but also help catch protein - i believe we should have a meal dedicated to worms - or at least raise a glass in their honor, i dont know. but bryan is truly the green thumb in this relationship. i can kill succulents and i almost did until bryan realized that i neglected my only plant and is now trying to nurse the poor thing back. i only get into the practicality of a garden because it is functional and saves money.

which takes me to a different thought on hobbies all together. the functionality of them. i like functional hobbies. more to come on that...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Famous Blue Raincoat

today was invoicing day. never fun. i had my dh's itunes blindly playing and there was some irritating rock band on...don't ask me who...all i know is that i started getting all riled up and knew i needed to change the song and i found leonard cohen's albums and turned them on. a good friend by the name of joel gunderson first played him for me and he became a regular presence during study sessions in college so his music immediately makes me feel a little drunk. famous blue raincoat came on - if you haven't heard it - please take a couple minutes and listen to it here.
its funny because i always felt he was writing that letter to a woman, despite the quote "And what can I tell you my brother, my killer" maybe because he referred to the rose in the person's teeth, or maybe i just pictured another woman in a blue raincoat, i am not sure, but i realized it was about another man and about an affair (i had known it was about an affair, but thought it was some sort of lesbian thing). i had to add all new images now with the song and i think i liked it better when it was a woman. sorry leonard. at any rate i absolutely adore that song. the line in the song "one more thin gypsy thief" i think is able to capture the type of person he is writing to so well. the song is achingly written - with sadness, a little forgiveness/reconciliation and that bit of hindsight that seems to make things so much clearer.
"thanks for the trouble you took from her eyes. i thought it was there for good so i never tried"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

friendship and pedicures

devon, christa, carlee and ruth

so...i was reading my girlfriend devon's blog - if you would like to check it out yourself click here - i realized that i have posted all these blogs and haven't mentioned two very important people in my life - devon and ruthie. they both know why i am doing this and i think they would know the importance of being mentioned in a *blog* (smirk).
ruthie and i have been friends since our college days at westmont and ended up sparking a friendship our sophomore year. the summer of 99 we found ourselves in a tight knit group of friends and living together through our jr and sr years. ruthie is very much opposite of me and very much a soul mate of a friend. she transcends black and white logic into a spectrum of colors and sometimes techno-color lights and is able to not only plan a party, but put the life into it. she has this amazing heart that holds all the wounded inside it and makes time for anyone that asks it of her. she has this amazing knack for truly honoring someone, which in this very selfish age is a sparkling phenomenon. the great thing about our friendship is that we have often confronted each other, which isn't necessarily great, but the great thing is that we not only work ourselves through that confrontation, but always end up crying and spewing love for each other in between sobs. it has made our friendship stronger, in fact it has made it life-long material. ruthie recently found a special boy and made a move to dallas. the separation was very hard, to make it sound trite, but truly the best choice for her at this point in her life. when bry and i moved to long beach ruth introduced us to devon, who for a while lived across the path from her in the alvocado in LB.
devon is this amazing spirit. always with a smile on her beaming face and always there for everybody. devon spends probably 2/3 of her day helping someone out. she has an amazing gift for getting the perfect gift for everyone she knows, for putting everyone above herself. she also is the party planner and her and ruthie could produce a successful business if they ever got their acts together! devon is a teacher of english to adults and that should speak volumes on her patience if nothing else. when bryan and i had bryson devon organized all our friends together to get gift cards at local restaurants so that we wouldnt have to worry about cooking for the first couple weeks - complete with menus and everything, which i still think is probably one of the most thoughtful gifts i have ever received. she always has a present for bryson when he visits and her giving spirit and optimism keep me balanced.
one more thing about devon...she happens to have brain cancer.
i dont know what is going on with our age group and why it seems like cancer is becoming a disease that is starting to affect people younger and younger each year. my girlfriend sarah vanderwerf was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma and toward the middle of her chemo treatment i learned my cousin betsy was diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma. since their diagnosis' one of bryan's friends friends from high school was battling testicular cancer and another friend from college also was in remission for testicular cancer. my world has been turned upside down the past two years. my invincibility factor was severely diminished and i have been downright terrified. i traded in my teflon pans, i switched to cloth diapers, i switched (mostly) to less toxic chemicals...i have to pause here to say that while white vinegar is amazing at most household cleaning, bleach is so powerful at getting the nasty mold that invades the house we are living in and i need to give it up, but cant seem to make that leap. i started buying organic when i can afford it, but with meats and dairy i try always to buy organic. i started our organic vegetable garden and compost pile, i try to support businesses that are conscious of our environment. this isnt to toot my horn, or put a spotlight on how *green* i am - because my reasoning behind all of this is not to save our planet...that truly is a bonus and i do believe we have a calling to be stewards of the earth and take that seriously, but in reality my main motivation is keeping my family as safe and healthy as possible. i just cant believe that people our age who are starting their lives and families should have to deal with life-threatening illnesses.
devon has inspired me. her optimism and also her tenacity to fight not only the cancer, but her insurance and doctors and i marvel that she is taking it all upon herself. marvel and wish she would let others do for her what she does for everyone else.
devon and ruthie - this blog is for you and for your impact on my life and how special the two of you are to me and how you each continue to inspire me and motivate me to be the type of friend you two are to me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Raise a Hand

Hobby #4 - Volunteering

i suppose one can call this a hobby, right? i had a good discussion the other night based upon what constitutes a hobby, which, was actually very intriguing...which should tell you a little about myself i suppose. i have always thought a hobby is what you do in your leisurely time for recreational purposes. we went into the discussion saying that it is not necessarily for monetary purposes, although some hobbies do indeed turn out that way. at any rate i decided that yes, volunteering can be a hobby. it is something i do because i am a big proponent of change, and doing what i can to make change happen in my community. that sounding completely cheesy i also have to admit that it has been a very selfish act as well.

i grew up watching my parents volunteer in our church, which maybe doesn't sound too profound, but learning more and more about cultures and volunteering, i find that not everyone is so accepting of volunteering. there are a lot of cultures that don't believe time (especially for women) should be spent outside of the home and work. i started volunteering in high school through my church at union rescue missions and in mexico through churches. in college i spent a lot of time at the transition house volunteering and found myself dedicated to the alzheimer association because of a stint worked at an alzheimer home.

i moved to long beach in 2004 and found myself in a new city working from home and no social outlet, save for a few close friends. i wanted to do something with my newfound extra time that was beneficial and also meet people in my community. i first heard about the junior league at a wedding from a friend's mom. i did a little research and found myself signing up - surprising myself.

junior league has a lot of stereotypes - pearls and gloves and tea dates and little charity work on the side, but luckily i found a league that no longer resembles the original one. i found myself a little nervous before going to a meeting, but after every one i found myself so amazed by these women. these women, who would be changing diapers and creating change in the community. i marveled at how these women found the time when they had careers and family and who knows what else they did with their 40 hour days. the women were from every different ethnicity and social background and age group. one of my favorite people in the league is 55 years old and younger than any of my peers.

our project is a home for homeless children set in the cabrillo projects in long beach. which, i must add, the villages at cabrillo is one of the most amazing homeless projects i have ever known. our school - Bethune Transitional Center - reaches the children of the shelters ages K-8 and helps transition them into public schools. the junior league of long beach founded this school and turned it over to the Long Beach School District and continues to work with the kids hands on. i have learned a lot from this school and from these kids. from doing art with them at the long beach museum of art to taking them on field trips they have simultaneously ripped my heart apart and filled it with joy.

from the friendships i have made, to the impact on the community i continue to see and experience i am truly grateful that organizations like this exist. i have had the pleasure to serve on our project committee as well as nominating this year and look forward to the rest of my active years...and my sustaining years as well!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Stitch in Time

Hobby #3 - Sewing

ever since birthing a child i find myself more and more domesticated. i love womanly arts - something that really struck me on a trip to sweden in 2000. i visited the home of the famous swedish artist Carl Larsson. instead of oohing and aahing over his paintings, which are fabulous, i was completely blown away by his wife Karin and her tapestries and her decorating and her oh so ahead of her times furniture designs. there was one chair in particular that any mid century modernist furniture maker probably stole from and she designed it in the late 1800s. the carpenter she commissioned to make the piece was so embarrassed by it he made sure she picked it up in the middle of the night and drape fabric over it so that people wouldn't know he made it. anyway - she is an inspiration to me. i have always loved going to the local fair, not to solely partake on the latest fried creation, but to drag my dh into the craft section to ooh and aah over the amazing quilts.

bryan bought me a sewing machine a couple years ago and i was able to figure out how to thread the bobbin and teach myself some basics...after many horrible monstrosities...and begin to start my love of sewing. still very much a novice, i am learning the art and loving the creative side it allows me to exercise.

my recent projects include broomstick horsies for all the 2 year olds in my life, hooter hiders for all the nursing moms in my life, aprons, tote bags, baby blankets and even some clothing.

my nature with most things handmade is not to pattern. i like the organic nature of creating and working things out by trial and error and also the obvious home-made quality. my dh wants me to sell my horsies - which he terms my dopey horsies - but i doubt i could make it into anything profitable at this point and besides i get so much joy of giving someone a gift they couldn't just purchase, something that

although my nature is not to pattern, i decided to challenge myself with a certain tote bag challenge to see if i have advanced enough to follow a pattern. there are several errors, but i actually ended up with a bag! amazed i found myself encouraged that i indeed can sew! i am now on the lookout for new patterns that i can twist with my own stamp and constantly try to not get caught up in making my creation too *perfect*.

for me, sewing provides an outlet to design - from finding the perfect fabric (always a challenge since most fabric stores carry a wide variety of floral patterns and not much else) to the right project and working that project to make it functional. i love the organic process and the feeling that i can create something that people will enjoy. unlike knitting, sewing makes perfect gifts because people truly appreciate functional things that have the homemade touch. not that someone wouldn't appreciate a handmade knit gift, but that sewing projects have a more modern sensibility to them i guess.

i have also found myself maturing through sewing. whereas before i wouldn't have taken the time to iron my ends and create finished edges, i see the importance of taking the extra time to cut correctly and finish my edges and cross my t's and dot my i's if you will. it is a big step for me and i secretly congratulate myself when i am able to accomplish a piece that looks somewhat professional or somewhat sweatshop material.

speaking of sweatshops i must project here and add that sewing is no longer economical. where my mom learned to sew to create outfits of her day because she could not afford the latest trend is no longer the case. fabric is expensive....or i should say good patterns are expensive. it would cost me much more in time and materials to create an outfit than to merely hop on down to forever 21 or whatever china shop trend store and buy something. but that is perhaps beside the point.

although i find myself maturing in this art, i am a far way from the intermediate level. someday i would love to learn to quilt, but all that exact cutting and math and matching edges leaves me a little cross-eyed at this point. i will stick to my beginner patterns and staple presents until i mature a little more into the exactness that the art of quilting requires.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Purls of Wisdom

Hobby #2 - Knitting

i always get sick around thanksgiving. my family would typically go to Mammoth for skiing and turkey on Thanksgiving and i would typically be on the couch in the cabin sick with some sort of tonsil affliction. my grandparents came along one thanksgiving and i asked my grandma june to teach me how to crochet. she entertained me (i was 17 at the time) and showed me the slip knot, loop stitch, single, double and triple stitches. i took a fancy to the double stitch and quickly fell into the love of the repetitive stitches, feeling my mind let go and focus on a simple task and quite quickly my hands fell into the groove of working the stitches into something tangible. i surprised her that christmas by making her an afghan throw. i went on to teach myself how to make beanies and scarves and another afghan...all in double stitch.

since 17 i have picked it up and put it down several times...generally picking it up in the winter months, as one does not like to touch wool in warmer weather. a couple years ago our junior league announced a knitting class would be meeting and i eagerly signed up - i had always wanted to learn and never could decipher the strange pattern jargon in the knitting and crochet books.

crocheting helped me to pick up knitting quite easily...though it is not an easy craft lets be honest. i think the more appropriate term is that i had a slight edge to picking it up due to my crocheting background. i took a class and learned how to cast on, knit, purl and bind off. i knitted my son bryson a beanie and purchased several knitting needles.

recently on a trip to colorado my niece hope finally got her wish for me to teach her how to crochet. i bought her a needle and some yarn and showed her what my grandma showed me 11 years ago (gasp). my grandma is by far a better more patient teacher. i had never tried to explain what my hands knew to do and found it difficult to pass on that learned knowledge, but somehow i was able to show her and she ended up making a potholder for my aunt.

i picked up the book "stich n bitch" a knitting guide for the hipster, which is myself of course. it has very easy to understand instructions and projects that help learn skills and i have found myself hooked yet again.

i like to take my yarn and needles to dr appointments and road trips. i do often get stares when knitting in public (also termed KIP in knit-language i have learned). they seem to wonder why i would rather partake in an old lady hobby rather than read some outdated magazine. well...this is why: knitting is probably one of the most therapeutic things that i can do. therapeutic in the sense that it calms my mind - helps me to focus on a single objective. helps me to calm my overproductive hands, helps to calm my overproductive mind, a way to channel energy into creating something beautiful.

knitting is extremely challenging and i have the utmost respect for the women i see in the yarn stores wearing their beautiful hand made sweaters...someday carlee...someday...i love the history of knitting, the community of knitting and the challenge. i love the creativity that it provokes and the creations that come of it and the possibilities once you become more advanced.

i am still very much at beginner level, but thanks to my stitch n bitch manual, i believe i too can knit a sweater someday. i think one of my favorite stitches is the stockinette stitch (which is knitting one row and purling the next repeatedly). on one face it looks very neat and clean and flat and on the back you see all the bumps and *imperfections*. i feel like it conveys my style the best - we all want to show the ironed out got it together side (knit) to the world, but keep the imperfections (purls) close to our skin to remind us of what we have done and where we come from. you didn't know knitting was so existential did you?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I'm into this new's called Yogging...

Hobby #1 - Running

please don't pin me as an athlete or some crazy fit person, cause i definitely don't fit into that category, but running has definitely become a hobby of mine for the past 6 years and came as quite an accident.

my sister-in-law Kristie decided to run the L.A. Marathon in March of 2002 and decided to make it a family affair, so Bryan (dh), my mother-in-law Kathy and father-in-law Bob (both 50 at the time) decided to join in the "fun". i should pause here to let you know what kind of family i married into. my husband's family are definitely "athletes". Kathy is a world champion tennis player in her category (and by that i literally mean it - she won the world champion in her age group in Turkey last year at the USTA championships). there was no way i was going to run - i only ran while being chased and the longest i had run was for a mile and a half when i had to in p.e. - anyway - my husband told me that if i just trained with him he would buy me a cat. so i did it reluctantly. well, i got my cat and went as far as 10 miles in my training but then started developing plantar fasciitis in my left foot and stopped...for the time...i found that i actually missed running. i became hooked.

after my foot healed i picked it up again, but read more about training and did it a lot smarter (better shoes, easier paces, walking mixed with running) and finished a half marathon with Bryan and my sister-in-law Mandie in January of 2005. after my son was born we trained for another half marathon and ran with mandie, my brother jake, my sister sara and (her fiance at the time now husband) pete and bryan in January of 2007. i decided i wanted to go longer and in January of this year we ran a 30k in Calico and i found a new addiction - trail running.

mandie's father - rick miller - is an ultra runner (which is very long distances) he has run several 100 milers, including badwater (google it for those of you who want to know what insanity is). he encouraged us to run calico and also to run trails and opened a world of hiking/running that i am totally into.

running not only gives you the "high" that keeps you addicted, but for me it is about pushing my body, and even more difficult, my mind to its limits. there is such a satisfaction in being able to say that my body has never gone that far or that i never thought i could make myself do that. running helps you conquer yourself - your doubts, your insecurities, that script that runs through your brain that we all struggle with which says you can't, you can't, you can't.

i like to attempt to meditate during my longer runs and get in tune with my body and say hello to all my aching joints and thank myself for torturing myself in this way. i like to try to shut off my ongoing chatter in my brain and look around at the beautiful scenery and feel very alive and very thankful. i pray. i thank God for abilities and blessings and creation. i ask God to help me to make it because my body is telling me i won't. i dream about things i want to accomplish, places i want to run and goals i want to set. i turn on my ipod when i need something other than myself to get up yet another big hill. sometimes one needs a little pat benatar to pick up the pace! i love to sweat and detoxify my body and like to think i am starting fresh each time after a run.

after the run i like to rest...and eat...a lot. food tastes so overwhelmingly delicious when you deplete your body of everything. running has also made me look at food differently - as fuel. i don't run well if i had a big meal...don't even get me started about having to poop when you run - i have many horrible stories, but that is for another blog! after running your body is very open and thankful.

i must say as well that the people i have met while running should also be worth mentioning in this hobby. not only has it brought me closer to my friends and family that share the love and also join us in runs and races, but also the community of runners is quite a family in itself. rick said at calico that it isn't just a hobby, it is a lifestyle. i have so much respect for the ultrarunners that i met - their dedication and love for life is intoxicating. while running calico i passed an older lady that was simply beaming. her ear to ear grin lit up her face and passed along a little joy to me as well. bryan (who ran the race the previous year) asked if i saw her - of course i saw her, who could miss that beautiful face? - and asked how old i thought she was. probably 40 i replied. he said she is 65. i couldn't believe it - seriously her legs were amazing - i was jealous. i must add that she was also asian and the ethnic gods smile very generously on asians when it comes to aging, but this was ridiculous. i also met a man who had run a marathon the day before and a woman who ran in a skirt and all of them were excited to be there and run and share in something together.

i hope i can keep my body in good enough condition to continue this hobby. i am not the most self-disciplined person and having a 2 year old who hates being in his jogging stroller provides a definite obstacle, but i will persevere for what the sport has brought to me. i don't know if i will become an ultra-runner, but definitely want to keep pushing goal right now is to run a marathon when i turn 30 (this year) probably in catalina in 2009. hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Holly Hobby

so, i discovered a little secret about getting older...hobbies. i guess i have always had them, but it seems important when one gets older to make a deal about them - buying magazines, joining groups, even competing. it's what i never had time to do in school, or working all the time, but now i am able to use them as an excuse to carve out some time for myself and do something worthwhile with my *precious* time.

many of my college friends have become somewhat fanatical with their hobbies. some have even declared hobbies as one declares a major, and perhaps in this stage of our lives it would be appropriate. i find that they are ways that we are able to place ourselves somewhere in this large world and connect with others who share similar passions. in college it was so easy to find people - one had to simply walk down the hall, or strike up a conversation after class. in the late twenties and *gasp* thirties it is not quite so easy.

with every one of my hobbies i have been able to meet the most extraordinary people that i would never had the graces to meet previously. i find friendships with senior citizens and younger folks easier to blend when a hobby is shared and loved between us.

one of my favorite people is Cicero and one of my favorite quotes is from him, "it is not the depth of knowledge, but rather the breadth of knowledge that counts" i love that quote because i tend to be the cocktail party queen - i can converse on a variety of subjects, but only so far. i have never been extraordinary at any one thing but average at many. i used to bring myself down on this, but now i accept it and even go so far to say it is a strength of mine. this also rings true with my hobbies - i am at beginner/intermediate level at all of them, but the passion is there and i believe they will stick with me and perhaps i will find when i am older to say that i am actually at an advanced level. i think my ADD has slowed down enough that it could be a possibility.

i suppose to make it easier to tackle, i should dissect each hobby of mine for a separate post for fear of this becoming a blonovel...i tried to make a pun...not sure that worked well. i suppose for a while it will be a holly hobby blog post site so be warned!