Sasquatch!

May 30, 2007

Carlos and I took Diego to his first music festival in Washington on Saturday. It’s called the Sasquatch! festival and it’s held every year around Memorial Day weekend. We had to drive about three hours out of Walla Walla to get to the Gorge Amphitheater, where it was held over two days. We only went to one, and even that was exhausting. We got there about Noon and left a little before 11 p.m., in the middle of Arcade Fire. As much as I hated leaving, we were so tired, quite cold, and ready for bed. We missed hearing Bjork play, but we did get to see Ozomatli, The Hold Steady, Mix Master Mike, Niko Case, and our highlight, Manu Chau. I’m glad we saw what we did of Arcade Fire, who were amazing.

I’m not going to be able to properly capture the sight of the Gorge, so here are some pics:

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beautiful books

May 29, 2007

I’m such a hypocrite when it comes to spending money. As the family’s “chief financial officer,” I know that we need to be real careful with how we use our money until our next pay check. We just paid the mortgage, and just took a little weekend getaway that ate up a lot of our spare cash.

With that said, I think I am going to splurge today on a beautiful book I haven’t been able to get out of my head since skimming it last week. It’s called “Petropolis,” and is a coming-of-age story about a rebellious girl in Siberia who moves to the U.S.

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I consider this potential purchase a splurge because it is recently released and thus in hardback. I rarely buy hardback because they’re so expensive and a bit clunky to read. But as I’ve grown older I have come to appreciate the beauty of the jackets and binding more than before. I could also either 1) wait for it to come out on paperback, or 2) look for it in the library, but something about it is screaming for me to own it, today if possible.

I love these coming-of-age stories written by bright young women. The last hardback book I bought was “Towelhead” by Alicia Erian. I bought this book while at a journalism conference in Denver and read it that weekend. It’s about a 13-year-old girl who finds herself no better off living with her estranged father in Texas than with her disinterested mother in New York. It was a painful, funny and real story that I’m sure was loosely based on her life.

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Another great book is “Prep” by Curtis Sittenfeld. That’s a girl, not a boy. This one is set during the high school years of an elite prep school in the east coast. It is a very rich and detailed story that reminded me of one of my favorite childhood authors, Judy Blume.

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I’ll have to follow up once I actually get “Petropolis,” and then give my take once I finish it.

the window

May 25, 2007

I came home today from a walk with Diego and realized I’d left a window open in the kitchen. No biggie, no one broke in, but we’ve been extra careful about locking our house since we were burglarized a few months ago.

Every time I open the kitchen window I’m reminded of it. The window is large and opens by sliding from one side to the other. There’s a vertical slit in the screen, and a bit of a pry mark, where I think they poked a knife through to see if they could push the window open. It didn’t, because it locks and is also double-paned. Our bedroom window was not locked, and they must have tried the knife-prying trick on it and realized it slid right open. When I got home from work that day, after picking up the baby, I noticed our front security door was open.  Sometimes it would blow open with the wind because we rarely locked it. But it still seemed odd. Then as I pulled into the driveway, I noticed our back gate open. I knew it had been closed. Even as I walked through the back patio, and noticed the bedroom window screen on the lawn, it didn’t really hit me that someone had broken in. Then the back door was shut but unlocked. Again I resisted believing we’d been burglarized. It only really hit me when I walked into the living room and our television was gone. It still didn’t appear like someone had been there. The drawers weren’t emptied out, the house wasn’t a huge mess. But all our electronics were gone. Gameboy, Game Cube, my laptop, our cameras, and the TV.

We did get slightly lucky. We ended up finding our television stashed beside our garage, in a little walkway we’d barely noticed when we bought the house. The police believed one of our neighbors had scared the crooks off as she walked by our house on her way home from school. All of this happened within minutes of me coming home. The way they came in was through the walkway beside the garage, where there was a gate we’d never thought to check that opened up into an alley. We’ve since put a padlock on that gate, and figured out how to lock our bedroom window.

All I can say is I hope karma took care of whoever did that to us. Luckily our insurance helped out with the loss, and we got a little wiser and not so trusting about our house.

books and babies

May 22, 2007

I can’t say enough good things about reading books to little ones. Carlos and I don’t own much, but we do own a lot of books. Since Diego was born we’ve been collecting some of the baby-lit classics, like Good Night Moon, Guess How Much I Love You? and Buenas Noches Gorilla. We do have books in English and Spanish, and I have to admit I enjoy reading the Spanish books a lot more because it keeps me fresh on my diction. It also always amazes me how beautiful and eloquent written Spanish sounds.

Today Diego impressed us with his curiosity about books. I had to drag him indoors after running around in the yard, much to his displeasure. But it was time to get him ready for bed. In his room, he reached for a book on his book shelf, then realized it wasn’t the one he wanted. He put that book back and got the one next to it, “Dig, Dig, Digging.” It’s a little board book on diggers and tractors and other vehicles that absolutely mesmerize Diego. He got a little distracted after that, but in a few moments the three of us were in the living room, and I was telling Carlos about how Diego reached for the book. Then I asked Diego, “Do you want to read ‘Dig, Dig, Digging?'” And he nodded his head yes. So I asked him to go in his room to get it. He ran away, and Carlos and I waited excitedly to see if he’d bring the right book. He did, and an absolute sense of pride and amazement washed over me. My little guy not only understood what book to get, he wanted us to read it to him! He sat on Carlos’ lap and sat through the whole book.

Diego is 18 months old and it has taken a long time to get him to sit through a whole book, even if its just a board book. So for any mommies out there who get frustrated trying to read your infant a book, be patient and keep on reading, even if your little one loses interest to play with something else. I have a feeling they’re still listening.

yard work

May 20, 2007

Today Carlos, Diego and  I spent most of the morning clearing the bushes in our back yard. We have tall bushes lining most of the yard, which keeps things cozy and private since the fence is chain link. But the lilac bushes and assorted vegetation were long overdue a good pruning and clearing. I tried to cut through overgrown branches but realized it was going to take me much longer than one day to do it. So instead I cleaned up the dirt around the trunks, which still took a good chunk of the morning. We stopped when our trash can filled up. Getting to make our yard pretty is something I like about owning a house. We definitely have a “starter” house, and it needs a lot of work, but little details go a long way. If we keep the yard nice, and then maybe do some painting inside to personalize, it’s going to feel a lot more like our place and not the place we bought several months ago.

The rest of the afternoon we spent at Mill Creek, for a duck derby fundraiser. All the ducks got stuck near the starting line because winds were working counter to the flow of the water. We left after about an hour of staring at the water, waiting for ducks that never came. Before that we visited a lot of little booths, drank free soda and popcorn and had some hot dogs.

weird coincidence

May 18, 2007

My editor and I had a weird parallel universe moment the other day.  I asked him for some advice on a loan check I recently got to consolidate loans, and he named off not just the name of the company I got it from but also the dollar amount.

Turns out he’d gotten the same line of credit, for the same amount, for the same purpose. The only difference is that he got a better interest rate, and he was paying it off in three years against my four year terms. But we applied for the loans at the same time, and got the checks on the same day. He’d already cashed his. He was consolidating debt as well. It was a bit eerie, but not the first time something like this has happened to me.

At my last job, one of the younger editors and I also had a freak moment. He’d gone to school in San Diego for an English degree. He’d gone to Syracuse for a master’s degree. His first job was at a small paper in the Adirondack mountains, can’t recall the name right now. And then he came to the Star as a reporter before becoming an editor.

I’d also gotten an English degree in San Diego, but at a different school. Same Syracuse master’s program. Interviewed for a job at the Adirondack paper, but turned it down. I did have a good internship after college, but my first full-time job was at the Star. I’m not an editor yet, though. That editor is now working at the L.A. Daily News. He really pushed for me to take a job there, but having the baby changed my plans. I did freelance a bit before moving to Walla Walla. And he and his wife had  a baby (a girl) last year.

Maybe this means I’m destined to work at the Daily News. Or be an editor. Haven’t asked Al what his future plans hold, but maybe owning a CRV is in my future as well.

LA weekend

May 15, 2007

We went to Los Angeles this weekend to see our moms and my grandma who turns 99 this year. We met with my friend Joanna and her boyfriend one day and got coffee near their West Hollywood apartment. They are in a weird quandary right now about their home. They have a big two bedroom apartment that costs them about $1,700 a month. By Walla Walla prices, that’s outrageous. In WeHo, that’s an unheard of bargain. They’re looking for a one-bedroom place that’s perhaps more modern or in a historic building. But that will mean they will be paying way more, maybe $1,000 more, for a smaller place. So they’re kind of stuck.

To show how ridiculous housing has gotten in LA, some one bedroom condos being built across the street from their apartment are starting at $900,000. That’s insane to me. I hope Joanna and Nevo end up moving somewhere like Portland so they’ll be closer to us!

While we were drinking our coffee, Joanna found a note in her bag where she and Nevo had written their New Year’s resolutions. It made me want to write up weekly resolutions so I can slowly kill all my little bad habits.

1. No more soda. I’ve gotten a little crazy with the Coke’s.

2. No more trolling the internet or MySpace for dirt on ex-boyfriends or Carlos’ ex-girlfriends.  I’m way too nosy.

3.  No more touching my hair or scalp. I’ve been very fidgety since I cut off my hair and then I wonder why my face is breaking out.

t.v.

May 11, 2007

We might be getting rid of our cable soon. We’ve tried to work with it, and have welcomed some great shows into our lives, but enough is enough. I don’t like myself when I watch television. As much as I welcome the chance to stare at something and not have to think about anything relevant, I am afraid of what the television may be doing to little, impressionable Diego. I don’t want a distracted, hyper child who can’t focus on a lesson because the commercials in his brain are telling him it’s time for a soda, or whatever.

With that said, these are the shows I’ll miss once its gone:

Lost

We rented the first season for kicks while it was still in the second season and have been hooked. Each week there are new characters and plot twists.

What Not to Wear

Of all the chick shows I’ve gotten Carlos hooked on, this may be my greatest triumph. There is something so wrong, so annoying, and so admirable about this cute Jewish gal and cute gay guy teaching frumpy women how to dress. Shopping has always been theraputic. Never imagined watching someone shop and transform would be just as satisfying.

ANTM

That’s America’s Next Top Model to the uninitiated. Sexy models, Tyra’s posing, cat fights, it’s all too sinfully delicious.

airport woes

May 7, 2007

Oh, man. I hope I never have to travel alone with my 18-month-old again. It might not have been so bad if I’d remembered to bring the expensive sash I use to carry the baby on my hip more comfortably. I had to lug around Diego, who tips the scales at 26 pounds, a little travel suitcase and a stuffed diaper bag. I didn’t want to bring the stroller because I thought (moronically) that it would be more of a burden since Diego is such an eager walker now.

Because he’s under 2, and we’re cheap, I didn’t get Diego a seat. I planned for him to ride on my lap, and sleep most of the flights. This plan worked on the short flight from Walla Walla to Seattle, when I got to enjoy some wine (it’s free on these short flights). But for the big one, the 2 hour flight into LA, he did not want to sit still. I tried to get him to eat part of my veggie burrito, and he took a few curious bites, then flayed his arms around, sending beans and rice all over me and the kindly woman sitting next to me. I wanted to disappear.

I spent most of that flight walking up and down the isles with him, and keeping his little hands off people’s shoes and personal items. It was a long two hours. No nap whatsoever.

Getting back to Walla Walla was a little better. The little guy slept on both flights and only fussed a little during take off and landing on the LA to Seattle leg. But before getting to Walla Walla we were stuck in the Seattle airport for just about 3 hours. Part of it was a long layover, the other mechanical issues with our plane. I tried to stretch that time out as much as possible, and walked and fed him, but a good nap and good lunch meant he was ready to roam. I spent much of the layover chasing Diego through our terminal. Every time I’d get him to sit and watch planes, he’d sneak off and go running full speed. I worked up quite a sweat. I finally had to corral him at our gate by sitting on the floor and catching him every time he tried to take off. This was a fun game for him. A nice woman offered me a mailing tube for him to play with, and this entertained him for about 15 minutes. After I got to rest for a while I encouraged him to run around while I chased him, hoping he’d wear out. I was out of snacks at this point too, and out of wipes. On the flight into Walla Walla, which left an hour and a half late, I enjoyed a nice beer while he enjoyed a much needed snooze.

school districts

May 1, 2007

A few years ago I got a master’s degree in journalism. I don’t think this really says much about me, other than I have good study habits, love reading, like to finish what I start and am basically a nerd when it comes to research. I don’t think having a graduate degree makes me any smarter than someone with a bachelor’s or even someone like my brilliant partner who has some college under his belt but a lot more real-world, practical experience.

I never feel quite as limited by my intelligence as when I leave one of my lovely school board meetings. Being a reporter means being able to jump into any situation, however chaotic or confusing it may be, and try to see the light and reason behind it all. The goal at times is to find the right words to express the sheer chaos of the situation.

Tonight I came home from a board meeting that may lead to a couple of people losing their jobs or significantly losing hours because the district overspent. There was also a big issue about consolidating facilities. Trying to make sense of how and where a district spends its budget is a monster task. Worse, I have to do my best to try and find any inconsistencies or possible dishonesty. If I didn’t do these things then I wouldn’t be doing my job. There were a lot of people who felt betrayed by the board’s actions. My sense was that they felt something was not right, but didn’t know how or where to point the finger.

That’s why it’s been two hours since the meeting ended and I’m still reading and highlighting through documents. It’s a good thing I’m such a nerd about research.