Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Very overdue for an update.

So last Friday, Sat., and Sunday, I was working away in the library, finishing up my last long paper… Discovered the joys of working in the library, surprisingly, since at MHC I avoided it during finals period due to germ issues. Jill & I actually arrived about an hour before the lib. opened on Sunday morning. Get this: during finals week, Stanford’s library didn’t open until NOON on Sunday. This seemed bizarre after MHC’s 24 hour policy, and then even the reduced early morning to 2 am compromise. I definitely took for granted the better access to the administrative powers…

Anyways, so Monday I finished up & packed… Tuesday morning I headed out early for my flight (way early, I had 3 hours to kill at the San Jose airport)… and learned the ropes of using mass transit in my new area. Still prefer my bike to the Marguerite, but… it’s helpful when you’ve got a huge suitcase.

Met up with Mer & Mum at the escalators in PDX (after some confusion), and headed into Portland for shopping. We found a very cool store (Presents of Mind), outside of which I got into a conversation with a gay rights activist & made a donation to the cause. Then Mer & I tried on gobs of clothes at Buffalo Exchange. After going through our painfully slow decision making process, we grocery shopped at Trader Joe’s (and I almost lost a mitten), drove through an unlit Peacock Lane, & had dinner at Skipper’s w/ much laughter over “hush puppies.” Great homecoming, w/ Tim at the door and Prissy expectantly looking at me (first time EVER that this cat has shown an interest in my being home again).

Select quotes:

Mom at Buffalo Exchange: “Those sweaters match really well. Too bad you can’t wear them both at once!”

On Mer’s stomach growling: “No digestion without representation!”

Gosh. So… what have I done since then. Weds. Mer & I headed down to Hood River and I got some more of my Hanukkah shopping done (aka, Andrew’s presents). We realized at some point that we were starving, so rather than grabbing coffee we walked over to the Crazy Pepper for some (as always) amazing Mexican food.

Thurs. we headed back into town – I hung out at the library ostensibly working on my intro to grad final while Mer shopped for me. Actually, I caught up on NYT articles, political blogs, and www.gofugyourself.com. I did finish writing the first paragraph, however, which seemed like a huge victory at the time.

So afterwards, we got some pretty amazing mochas at Dog River Coffee, and I got some more work done on my paper. I usually hate working in cafes due to noise issues, but (much like the library discovery) I’m finding it’s actually rather enjoyable when you’re in the right sort of café. Luckily, Hood River is not a university town, so one can still sit and drink coffee and work without being surrounded by other people doing the same. Refreshing to be the only one working on a paper in a given establishment.

Helped Mum w/ dinner – rice & bean mixture w/ kale & Mum’s amazing home grown & home canned tomatoes.

Thurs. we again headed into town – I again worked in the library, and got a first draft out. Dinner involved elk meat and spaghetti. I tried the elk (since it was wild & hunted), but found after one meatball that I just couldn’t do it. Hadn’t had red meat since the summer – wasn’t ready to really restart. Plus, elk meat has that gamey taste… The OC was excellent. Looking forward to Chrismakkuh w/ Andrew!

Anyway, Friday is difficult to remember now. At some point we watched The Bear though: a trippy movie in which bears are shamelessly personified and take drugs (otherwise known as psychedelic mushrooms).

Speaking of difficult to pinpoint events, we attempted to do something Chrismas-y each day. First was positioning & decorating the tree… I made some Christmas playlists for our soundtrack, and we got all the old favorites up on the branches. A couple days later I had a wrapping session, and got all the gifts under the tree. Mum’s been in a baking frenzy (partly due to events yet to be narrated), and has made like 7 or 8 pies in the last couple of days, plum pudding, and a walnut pie (which is amazing). We also made fudge soon after I arrived. Calculated the calories in a batch : 5800. Per square, about 200, depending upon how large your cuts are (we got about 30).

Saturday is the big crazy day. We had our self-scheduled Christmas, w/ Mer & I opening stockings and opening one another’s gifts. Surprised Mum w/ perfume & hiking boot money. I’m particularly excited about the coasters Mer got me. Must try out this mint julep recipe. Also found a perfume scent for Mer that seemed appropriate: beleaf. Mum & Tim surprised me w/ pink poodle figurines, which will stay under glass till I’m more settled geographically.

All was going well, until someone (probably me) had the bright idea of heading up to Laurence Lake to see the snowy sights. Well, as Mer was being nice and pulled aside for a small car to speed down the road, we got stuck on the none-too-plowed road up to the lake. At first it wasn’t so bad… just a bit nosed into the snow. Backing up proved fatal, as we started going into the ditch. Called up Scott, who w/ a neighbor and a handful of passersby directed our rescue operation. People shoveled snow out from under the wheels, pushed the jeep, and gave advice. The truck w/ chain attached to the jeep couldn’t pull it out, so at one point we had a truck & an SUV hooked up via winch to a tree and somehow… they finally got us out. Wheels spun without catching, the brakeline busted, and then Mom (keep in mind, no brakes) rear ended Scott’s truck (but we were the only ones damaged, luckily the fog light was the only casualty). Eek. Inched down the hill in first gear, watched one of our helpers get stuck in the snow as everyone tried to prevent him from backing into the same ditch that got us (Scott got him out, too, though his gears were messed up, something about a transmission box breaking).

Anyway, we got down the hill using emergency breaks, and turned into Scott & Linda’s, where we were greeted w/ tea & woodstoves burning. After figuring out our plan of attack in car repairs, we headed home in Tim’s truck. I made chili & compiled the blue cornbread mix from TJ’s. Yums. Kind of made up for our misadventure, and our frozen toes.

Mom started baking “thank you” pies that night – which we had to deliver the next day. SNL was freaking hilarious. The digital short about Narnia & cupcakes was our favorite. Debbie Downer’s Christmas was a close second. However, couldn’t figure out Neil Young.

Sunday was ridiculous. As Mer says, we visited half the people that we know in this valley. Scott & Linda’s for a pie drop off, Catherine & Marcus’s for an alpaca holiday event (not kidding), one of our helper’s for another pie drop off (where a pack of barking dogs attempting to get themselves run over as they “escorted” us down the driveway), Grammy’s for a visit, the café for chai & the grand electronic send off of my last final paper, Arlene’s for a visit, Rosauer’s for dinner ingredients… we were hungry, exhausted, and relieved of pies by the time we got home. Dinner was snappy, as we’d gotten a frozen concoction. Later, toward midnight, Mer & I decided to have a snowy adventure. Walked to the pipes, sat in the quiet imagining elk, and then went home for a late night of hilarious dating shows.

Ripped from Mer’s blog, here are some quotes w/ my parenthetical comments:

"He really does like, consume people."
-Becky, about a guy making out with women on Elimidate (it was truly zombie like).

"Will Mike choose Tracy, or the egg donor?"
-Host of Elimidate

"Oh, someone's gonna get elimidated. Oh, no, someone's gonna have to watch the "Bod" commercial for the 50th time."
-Becky, concerning false dramatic pause and subsequent commercial break (they seriously played the commercial up to four times during EACH break. Sometimes even back to back alternate versions of the same d&#* ad).

"He's groovin' to that windchime"
-Becky, concerning "Third Eye" commercial (in which an unshaven guy in baggy clothes strums a wind chime and starts kinda dancing).

"She just craves that fresh water like a hippie craves a windchime."
-Me (i.e., Merrie, since this is from her blog), concerning Prissy and her faucet habit

So, for today:

Mum woke me up early (that is, before 9 am) as they’d spotted a herd of elk in the orchard. Right outside our front window, really, a whole herd grazing on the fallen apples. As they moved about, we caught sight of one spike or just a few pointed bull, which was way exciting, until we realized that an even larger bull was out there. He had probably about five points, and he was just a huge animal, as Mer says, “judging from how huge the rack was,” he must have had a decent amount of points. Mer tells me that bulls take “harems” during the mating season. So guess that’s what we were seeing. We’re not really sure what was up with the younger bull, but he must not have seemed a threat. Something spooked the herd, and they headed back up to the ditch & the hills.

Mer & I later decided to track them… which wasn’t too difficult in the snow, and with all the broken saplings, droppings, and shed fur. Mer spotted a number of small trees stripped bare by antlers. Got some cool photos in macro mode to document the trip. The highlight, though, was when Mer recognized these shrill bleats as elk communicating with one another (and probably warning of our presence, as we were none too quiet with our puffy coats catching on every limb and our boots crunching through the snow). These noises went on for about five minutes, with us crouching in the snow that was quickly melting through even my three layers of pants. After the bleating had stopped, I was ready to head homewards and take in the snowy views, so I ended up leaving Mer and tried to make as much noise as possible on the return trip to (we hoped) calm the elk into thinking we had left. Had some moments looking at the views of the valley hillsides in snow, and this ancient sign on a tree…

Helped with dinner – we had tilapia w/ garlic, onions, and tomatoes, and my new favorite veggie side, involving kale.

After, as Medium was a repeat, Mer & I watched Lady and the Tramp. Realized upon rewatching (it had been years), that there are huge issues being worked out in that film… all the different representations of immigration & ethnicity, class (the “kennel club”), not to mention gender roles. EEK. I used to love those old Disney films, and now I can’t imagine showing them to kids without a whole lecture attached.

Anyway, must go now. Will leave w/ a link to an awesome article from the NYT on health care reform for this country.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Apparently, the average college graduate's debt amounts to $17,600. The NYT ran an interesting proposal for making student loans work for students rather than lenders... which seems vital right now, as the Pell Grant program is woefully behind inflation. For most of us, the Pell Grant is really just a tiny drop in the bucket, not the empowering force necessary to help working class students feel that they can afford a college education.


"It's thus no surprise that lawmakers are apt to protect lenders and not students. On Oct. 26, Mr. Boehner's committee approved more than $14 billion in cuts over the next six years, which would be the largest reduction in the history of the federal student aid program. Mr. Boehner defended the cuts by saying they mostly came from corporate subsidies to Sallie Mae, Bank One, Citibank and the rest. But that gets to the heart of what is wrong with this program - and the way to fix it. The best way to reverse the shocking trends in debt and educational attainment would be to switch from loans back to grants. Given ballooning deficits, though, that's a nonstarter. Instead, why not cut off subsidies to banks and give that money to needy students?"

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My blog has become a digital commonplace book.

So here's some of my life:

This past Friday: Surprise birthday party for Justin -- SUCH fun. He was about 20 minutes late for the concocted movie watching date, so we all hid in the hallway whispering and waiting for a knock on the door. Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately?) none of us had matches for the candles since no one smokes... Marissa put up a good fight with the electric range top, and even got some sparks, but no outright flame. Anyway, luckily Justin didn't catch on and become overly suspicious of the multiple movie invites, or the bizarre silences whenever he entered a room where we were discussing plans. After our wine and cheese pre-party, we caught the Marguerite and walked to the Nut House. Which was a nut house. People were actually throwing peanuts at us. Seems like the place for English & Comp Lit kids (not necessarily because of the peanut throwing). We ran into older grad students, comp lit students... our table kept expanding. Talked about the OC w/ Harris, planned a slumber party with Elda Maria and Jill, unsuccessfully plotted with Elda to get unadulterated water, got scared silly by the life size gorilla man in the bathroom stall (I could have sworn he moved between my first and second trips) and felt waaaay drunk looking in the fun house mirrors by the sink, wondered over the music (blister in the sun AND tom petty), and stumbled home with everyone after we missed the last bus. Showered, and promptly fell asleep with the towel still on my wet hair. Woke up around 1 the next afternoon with a sore stomach, but luckily no headaches.

Anyway, the rest of my weekend consisted of working. Missed out on Binta's tour of the Chuck Close exhibit at the SF MOMA, but instead searched for Punch cartoons from the late 1800's for my final paper in 19th Cent. Visual Culture. OK, time for a little divergence.

So I remembered, back in the day, when I was writing my papers for the Joan of Arc/ King Arthur course at MHC, being able to search (electronically, no less) for the merest mentions of Lord Lytton in issues of Notes & Queries from the 1800's. And it was totally easy -- I was a sophomore, for Christ's sake. Also: At MHC, all the periodicals, even those dating from the 1800's, were in ONE PLACE. Easy to find and all that. So adjusting to Stanford's library system has been huge for me. From just figuring out where all the books are (they have like, 12 libraries, and auxiliary libraries where you have to specially call stuff up, and not to mention special collections for the really old awesome stuff), to how to search their online catalogue, to what databases to use, to how long I can have things out for, to how I can check out DVDs... so much. And always the little things you took for granted. So anyway, I had this breakthrough after some kind soul named Mary (this quest takes on Biblical proportions) at the library replied to my pleading email about not being able to find Punch. Basically, I had to search through periodicals specifically. Oops. But she also copied and pasted the info for where to find it (NOT where the special collections librarian had pointed me, so it wasn't entirely my fault for missing it...), which included, lo and behold, the database I remembered using back in the day at MHC! So, not only did I spend Monday morning flipping through 100+ year old magazines, I also was able to find every mention in a headline of "advertisements"! Only problem, of course, is that I just have all this stuff I love, but not exactly a thesis yet. Gonna work on that.

Anyway, today was our last Memoria class... we went like, an hour and a half over time. Eek. But it was OK because everyone had their final papers to talk about, and Prof. L. had ordered us Indian food. Ahhhh. The way to my heart. And by the time dessert roled around... I was in a pumpkin-dip-and-nilla-wafer-with-Philip-Glass-in-the-background induced swoon.

So now I've finished my reading response for my (gasp) last intro class on Thurs... and was reading some Wilde for Friday's class...

Here's a highlight for my idealistic soul:

"It will, of course, be said that such a scheme as is set forth here is quite unpractical, and goes against human nature. This is perfectly true. It is unpractical, and it goes against human nature. This is why it is worth carrying out, and that is why one proposes it. For what is a practical scheme? A practical scheme is either a scheme that is already in existence, or a scheme that could be carried out under existing conditions. But it is exactly the existing conditions that one objects to; and any scheme that could acept these conditions is wrong and foolish. The conditions will be done away with, and human nature will change." (1100) - Wilde in "the Soul of Man Under Socialism"

And here's a highlight for everyone with a Wildean sense of humor:

"Sometimes the poor are praised for being thrifty. But to recommend thrift to the poor is both grotesque and insulting. It is like advising a man who is starving to eat less. For a town or country labourer to practise thrift would be absolutely immoral. Man should not be ready to show that he can live like a badly fed animal." (1081)

OK I'm going to prep this next one by noting that William Morris and Wilde are both proposing socialism at least in part because they have decided that art in its best form -- or a democratization of art -- is not possible under capitalism. So Morris started a crafts movement, believing that everyone should work to produce beautiful objects/ art. And Wilde is responding to that in part here. But anyway, it's really funny, so here we go:

"They try to solve the problem of poverty, for instance, by keeping the poor alive; or, in the case of a very advanced school, by amusing the poor." (1079)

Well, that's it for today... time to shower and actually do some work!!
A great reminder about why, exactly, tax cuts for the wealthy should seem ethically WRONG right now. Congress is chipping away at safety net programs such as Food Stamps (200,000 people are basically going to lose $140 each month with which to buy food) and Medicaid. Unfortunately, trickle down doesn't work, and hasn't been working for these people:

"Poverty has risen across the past four years to 37 million and counting, by the government's own measure, while the number of homeless children in public schools is at 600,000 and up. In 2004, some 38 million Americans - including nearly one in five children - lived in households that found it difficult to afford food, 6 million more than in 1999. These are the numbers that should be driving the nation's lawmakers, not the cynical desire to carry rebellion only to the brink of victory, followed by still another last-minute cave-in by the misnamed moderates." - NYT Editorial, "Profiles in Pusillanimity"

What's this, you ask?

Only my new favorite website -- check out this disturbing case of "sexsomnia" in Canada. Apparently, some guy (with a HISTORY of this, mind you) got drunk, passed out next to some woman, and proceeded to rape her while supposedly asleep. The kicker? He had enough foresight to put on a condom. Awfully fishy. As someone on the above blog points out, condoms are hard enough to use even when you're CONSCIOUS. So basically, it's OK to rape women so long as you claim to have a disorder. And unlike female rape victims, you won't even be accused of negligence in protecting you/ the women around you because you exacerbated your "illness" w/ alcohol. Any judge with half a brain would at LEAST give the guy some sentence -- if you've done this four times, you're guilty by way of drinking and passing out next to a woman that you MUST KNOW you could end up "sleep raping."

As someone also points out in the above blog, if this guy had "accidentally" raped a man instead of a woman, you can bet that he wouldn't have been found not guilty.

Monday, December 05, 2005

OK. I do realize that it's after 2 am, but I still have to post these quotes because I've been having some "a-ha!" moments (not like the 80's band) while reading a chapter of Fredric Jameson from a book that he co-authored (The Cultures of Globalization). My first impression of Jameson a few weeks ago in Intro to Grad Studies was not good (overwrought prose style, the sort that takes you 5 minutes to read one page). So my excitement tonight seems miraculous (maybe that bad writing award went to his head, because the prose in this piece is amazing).

Anyway, so here are my favorite quotes, so far, in this week's reading:

After discussing the syllogism that goes: lack of democracy interferes with development of a free enterprise system, so therefore development of democracy "is dependent on development of the free market itself" (68). Ok so here's where it gets good:

"Suppose, however, that what are here identified as so many levels of the same thing were in reality in contradiction with each other; for example, suppose that consumerism were inconsistent with democracy, that the habits and addictions of postmodern consumption block or repress possibilities of political and collective action as such?" p. 69 Ah-ha!

Ok, and the second:

"But in the Anglo-American first world, I'm tempted to say, the state can still be a positive space: its powers are what must be protected against the right-wing attempts to dissolve it back into private businesses and operations of all kinds. The state is the place of welfare and social legislation, the source of the safety net of a whole range of crucial legislative powers (over employment, health, education, and the like), which must not be surrendered to the fragmenting and disintegrating effects of American business" (72).

I love this, I think in part because I've recently realized/decided that a laissez-faire model of capitalism doesn't work in the real world of post-industrialization. And why? Because big business doesn't care about worker safety or welfare until they're FORCED to. Example: I'm reading through anthologies of Victorian mags (such as Punch), and I ran across some details of the state of factory workers ... a group that included 13 year olds with phosphorous poisoning from working in match factories, which caused the destruction of vocal cords and the loss of teeth... and women and children working in cotton factories who "gained" a ten-hour work day after, get this, FORTY years of protests.

OK. So surely we've moved on now (as in, now workers can sue), but there are other areas in which we're still woefully like the Victorians. Their Smoke Acts are our "Clean Air Acts," which these days don't really do anything substantial. And the protests in Punch against train tracks in the Lake District seem eerily familiar to the administration's attack on National Parks -- their rewriting that makes "preservation" a secondary aim to certain high-up cronies' desires to go snow mobiling in Yellowstone. Not just eery, actually...

So, in my late-night Jameson-induced epiphany, I've decided that government intervention is necessary and vital for a responsible and sustainable brand of capitalism. Because people making millions/ billions of dollars don't consistently give a s*#$ about the environment (they can always buy a private island, right?) Now if only the government could extract itself from the pockets of big business, we'd actually get some real protection for the environment...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

With Mum's approval and even by her suggestion, I'm posing this snippet:

Pinkpoodledog: well, I don't know, I might watch SNL so it might not be that clear cut, but I'll at least get a chance to skim some reading tonight

Mom: i like to think of that what is it ?
Mom: the 8th chakra....message coming in from above...divine so to speak ?

Pink: mom, I honestly don't think that ayurvedic intervention is going to help me write about political cartoons from 19th century britain

Thursday, December 01, 2005

So I feel that I should document my Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving: Yet another sunny day, high 60's (actually cooler than it had been the rest of the week). Justin, James, & I headed over to our Stanford-sponsored Thanksgiving dinner around 4. I perhaps unwisely had us sit outside (the novelty factor, you know), since it did get chilly once the sun set. It was hilarious. James signed up to work -- his job? Taking pictures of everyone eating. (And he's from New Zealand so this was his first Thanksgiving.) Highlights: hearing about Justin's camping trip ("I was trying to fall asleep, and I thought 'that d--ed M!' "), the quickly-melted whipped cream on pumpkin pie that looked rather unhealthy, and my ill-timed comment of "I keep eating this, and it's not even that good" as people were walking past to get in the food line. Oopsy.

Friday: Lots of sitting about and working.

Sat: More sitting about, until the afternoon when I decided to be proactive. Borrowed The Piano from the lib. for mainly academic reasons. James came over to watch with me. Painful movie at times.

Sun.: Eek break coming to an end! But, I did get my paper done, the three novels read, and much of the intro reading done... Anyway, in the morning was my usual farmer's market expedition. And Desperate Housewives was excellent.

Mon: Double eek. Last day of break for me! Went to discussion on curiousity, Adam, and the fall of appetite... Awkward moment as one of the profs. said that it was the only lecture he'd followed, while someone who'd lectured earlier was in the room. Strange, because while I think the talk was brilliant, the prof was like me with talking too fast... but with the level of complexity of her ideas, well... difficult for a first year grad student to follow. And the prof who had spoken earlier in the quarter I thought was much better at conveying her ideas.

Anyway, watched Medium. Excellent!

Tuesday: Meeting about intro presentation... drugstore.com delivery (thank God, was running out of toilet paper. (Have you ever tried transporting toilet paper via bike? Yeah, that's why I resorted to online.)

Weds: Awesome pedagogy class. Prof. J gave us a litany of things that can go wrong, and Prof. L gave us readings that recommend listening to "rousing music" before teaching.

Today: I'm also done with my Intro presentation. I was rather nervous starting out... usually it takes me like at least 30 minutes to settle into a class and feel like talking, so basically talking first thing was uncomfortable. I stumbed at the beginning... I can always picture how horribly things could go, and then get worried, and then nervous, and that's not good. I think I recovered a bit as I kept going. I much more enjoyed talking during the discussion though! Must get over this nervous tendency... something about the Intro class is intimidating though... Perhaps because the room has no windows. Or because there are only 9 of us along that thin narrow table. I guess it's something I'll just gradually learn to work with. I am much better than I was back in middle and high school though!! So that seems to speak to the capacity for progress... right??

Rained tons today. Dumped. So after our Mantis meeting, Jill & I hung out over at the TA lounge. I read some Wilde. Definitely want to do something with socialism for my final project...

The OC... excellent.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"If I were a woman, I imagine it would be quite annoying to have a man trailing after me like a lost dog."
--Professor Frank Brownlow, English 211: Shakespeare

Oh my God I miss Brownlow!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

There's an owl outside somewhere -- he keeps hooting. Something like this: " ho hoo hoo...hooo ho." And yes, Merrie, I did go outside and try to spot him. But I think he's in a larger fir tree not in our immediate yard area -- yet he sounds really close... hard telling.

Well may as well do a quick update: I'm on campus for Thanksgiving break, luckily we have the full week off. So I've read 2 and a half novels, and I've got about 13 and a half pages so far toward my first final paper... eeks. I keep wavering back and forth as to whether I like this paper or not. I think now that I've got a clearer outline for the last few pages, I'll be happy. Hopefully when I reread it to edit things, I'll find ways to make the beginning clearer.

Each day I've been doing little things... Saturday I went to the shopping center, got some pretty paper to decorate my room with. Some real papyrus paper (I love thinking that Sappho wrote on such a surface); some handpainted paper with orange, gold, and brown blazes and swirls; and a sheet of red flowers for my bathroom. Also went to Andronico's. Stocked up on Haagen Dazs Creme Brulee. Got an eggplant. Very exciting, cooking with eggplant. I made my own marinara sauce, w/ mushrooms from the farmer's market. And fresh parmesan cheese.

Sunday I biked to the farmer's market & Trader Joe's. Splurged on dairy items: the parmesan cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. The couple in line behind me got a pint of Perfectly Pumpkin after seeing mine in my basket. Told them they'll love it.

Monday: Biked to campus to mail important items.

Tues: Shopping at the Gap. Best trip ever. Perfect fit corduroy pants (apparently the "curvy" ankle pants actually fit me properly) for $13. Cute longer skirt I can probably manage to bike in, $10. And some more little belts, 99 cents each. Plus I had my $10 off coupon from using my gap card... Ahh I love shopping for clothes.

Today: Decided to read on the lawn in the afternoon. Experimented with making falafel. I think it was fairly successful, despite the dough wanting to simultaneously stick to the bottom of the skillet (hello, you're in half an inch of oil, what the hell are you doing?!) and crumble apart.

Well, guess i should shower, them read some more Silko...

Happy Thanksgiving! =)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

OK and this is why I'm still watching tv and just attempting to type a few additional sentences to my memoria final during commercials: PETER FAULK ON CONAN!!!
Ok, did anyone else just see Jimmy Carter on Jay Leno? His new book sounds amazing. Because I'm lazy, here's what I told Andrew about it via IM:

Me: jimmy carter was just on jay leno. amazing. don't agree on his anti- roe v wade stance, but he's very acutely written a book about how most the values america supposedly espouses have been chipped away at over the last few years

Andrew (clearly distracted in his search for a tortoise-sitter): yeah i bet he's a pretty smart guy

Me: it was great, to hear a prominent politician just come out and say all the things I've been bitching about

Andrew (getting up to speed): i've been listening to NPR here whenever i'm in the car, and they're so liberal it's funny

Me: well carter is fairly moderate, doesn't take much to lean toward liberal these days, as the right is SO far right

Andrew: today they were talking about the media and how stupid it is that they hold back big stories if it's like right before election time (like some investigation about going to iraq)

Andrew: yeah you're right

Me: carter went ahead and said that he believes before "the supreme court said bush was president," high ups in the party had already decided to go to war against iraq

Me: that they were looking for an excuse, and that the evidence was at best false, and at worst concocted explicitly

Andrew (vaguely): wow

Me: that's pretty strong coming from an ex president

Andrew (he's totally done with listening to me on politics, as you can see): well i think i'm gonna have tea and read some hw reading


Just had to share -- now it's time for the Eurythmics (very old school tonight on Jay Leno)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

I feel like I should do a brief update… of highlights.

Did I mention the first year party – in honor of our advanced grad students? Great fun, invited MTL students, MA students… everyone. Good turnout, too. Theme was mojitos, which will be my new drink of choice. Stayed out till after 2 am. Rather out of character for me, I guess. Slept till after 12, so didn’t make it to the farmer’s market. Very sad – but luckily good food was had Tues. night, as I won a seat in the lottery for a dinner out through housing (another getting-to-know-people event). Great Malaysian place, Spice Island I think? But the waiter recommended the green curry, so I had that. Which motivated me to get both yellow AND red curry at Trader Joe’s today.

Hmmm… so last night we had another cohort love event, pizza making at James’s place. Really fun, and we got experimental w/ olive oil, cranberry, and olive pizza (surprisingly good, and seasonal, right?) Talked politics, the dept., future plans, and almost started a game of “Never have I ever.” Luckily curtailed that.

So today was lots of reading… and pizza & a movie w/ my Memoria class (Daughters of the Dust). Now must write a response. But had to update as the farmer’s market today was … inspiring.

The thing is, we read “Goblin Market” this past week for 19th Visual Culture, and then walking through a farmer’s market… kind of puts a different spin on the experience. There’s something crazy about seeing strawberries and winter squash both local & ripe. Never going to skip the market again. Last week’s produce was nothing compared to the stuff I got today (although the tangerines from Sigona’s were yummy) – dates (seem crystallized & candy-like, nothing like what you get in cereal), some variety of tangerine-like oranges, apples, squash, potatoes, persimmons… the fruit is amazing. Ahh. And continuing this sweet tooth trend, I decided on some chocolate gelato at TJ’s, as well as seasonal pumpkin pie ice cream (both incredible. Still getting over the fact that the ice cream is made with pie base).

Well… guess I should get on the work again, and then reward myself with ice cream. Very food motivated.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


From "Court Nominee Has Paper Trail Businesses Like," by Stephen Labaton, NYT 11/5/05:

" "We're concerned, based on his record, about what his appointment would mean for access to the courts by the people we represent," said Glenn Sugameli, senior litigation counsel at Earthjustice, a law firm that represents environmental groups and individuals seeking enforcement of environmental laws. "We're also concerned, based on his record, that his interpretation of the Commerce Clause threatens the enforcement of such laws as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act." ...

In environmental law, Judge Alito has generally also followed a narrow reading of the law. He cast a deciding vote in a 1997 case, Public Interest Research Group v. Magnesium Elektron, which dismissed a $2.6 million fine against the company for violating the Clean Water Act and found that the public interest group did not have the authority to bring a lawsuit. In other environmental cases, like W.R. Grace v. E.P.A., and United States v. Allegheny Ludlam, he has sided with large corporations seeking to overturn fines and remedial actions ordered by the Environmental Protection Agency. "

I think the case against Magnesium Elektron is an example of what I remember hearing about on NPR's Living on Earth program... the reading by some conservative judges that public interest groups don't have the authority to bring such cases up. This worries me... because I think we need these groups to act for the interest of public safety and health. If there are no "watch dogs" against big business pollutors, then who will bring cases like this to court? Many people wouldn't be aware of pollution's real dangers, even if they live in an area directly affected. And I'm just frankly confused: in cases like this where it's admitted from the outset that the company violated law, violated the Clean Water Act, then WHY isn't more being done to stop them?

Although this isn't the most extreme case of pollution (the company manufactures zirconium carbonate, and tried to argue that the waste actually helped the nutrient poor creek), it's quite the slippery slope... If you look at the file (http://lw.bna.com/lw/19970819/965049.htm), it's rather worrisome the leaps in logic that the court took in deciding that the waste wasn't harmful. I don't think that a court should be deciding how dangerous pollution is -- it seems that a more objective standard is necessary (ideally set up by non partisan SCIENTISTS, not judges or politicians). Also, some of the examples are mind boggling. Do citizens really need to wait until pollution causes a "visible" problem (examples of bad odors, brown water, oily layers, etc., as cited in the above article)? Wouldn't it make more sense to respond BEFORE the pollution damaged the ecosystem of the creek? Isn't there imminent danger of serious pollution from a company that addmitedly violated its discharge allowances over a dozen times? And how does the PIRG not have standing? Shouldn't local groups be able to respond to local issues? At what point is our legal system going to realize that pollution affects everyone? When pregnant women can't eat fish from our lakes for risks of mercury exposure to the fetus? Apparently not, because that's already a fact in at least New Hampshire. (Would NH women not have standing in trying to bring a case against the big midwest corporations that create the pollution that drifts to the NE?) When cancer rates skyrocket, which seems to be linked not only to genetic predisposition, diet, and exercise, but also to the chemicals we are exposed to in the environment? No, we already know that many of the synthetic chemicals we use in cosmetics, food production, and manufacturing are carcinogenic.

So to conclude this rant, I'm rather worried about Alito's nearly non-existent track record on the environment... Siding with big business may be good for the economy (and particularly the top 1% in this country), but what about the environment?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Ahh it’s been too long…

So about two weeks ago, on a Sunday, I had my great adventure: kayaking at Monterey Bay. I’d seen the advertisements through my weekly student housing newsletters, and since someone backed out, there was an open space for me. We grouped up according to who could drive, so the four of us (CS, philosophy, education, and myself – the only time you get an interdisciplinary group is when you go on trips through housing) banded together and rowed together. Beautiful day for it – we ended up staying in the wildlife refuge (Elk Slough, I think), rather than going on the open ocean, since the waves were too strong. But in the slough, it was calm and sunny. Seemed like it took forever to outfit us, instruct us, and then, finally, get into the water. It was amazing… seals, sea otters, and rows and rows of pelicans. The seals seemed curious about us, and would watch us, but the sea otters seemed to take offense when we got too close, and would stop playing. And pelicans do crazy things with their beaks – we kept watching them turn their bottom beak “flap” inside out (or something that LOOKED that way, rather startling). On the way home, I dozed again… I’d been out late at Jill’s (her German party) the night before.

Let’s see… so I remember that Thurs., going to Lupe & Elda Maria’s for The Motorcycle Diaries… biking to the farmer’s market on Sunday w/ Marissa… baking pumpkin muffins… baking acorn squash & the seeds (smelled & tasted like autumn)… making my own version of hummus… Finishing Cloud Atlas… Reading In Memoriam…

In more recent memory…

Last Friday, in celebrating Halloween, I dressed up as a very feminine version of the Cheshire cat. A group of us met up at Justin’s…Jill & I were the only ones who dressed up… Then briefly visited the party/ dance – some funny costumes. Got to bed very late… Saturday was a day of work, biking to Mollie Stone’s, etc. Sunday morning Jill & I biked over to the farmer’s market… we tried persimmons, decided they taste kind of cinnamony, bought acorn squashes, tomatoes, apples… The farmer’s market is the best part of my week, it seems… I get VERY excited about all the inexpensive, organic (or at least pesticide free), & fresh produce. This week we’re trying out these little rounded yellow squash – on the advice of other market-goers. And I gave in to the temptation to buy raspberries. In further food related news, I made sushi tonight… rolled mango, avocado, tofu, & zucchini. Kind of a “what I’ve got around the apt.” style sushi.

Anyway, so yesterday was also a day to buy plane tickets for a visit home before Christmas… laundry… reading in the lib… lots of reading… And today, in pursuing a possible presentation topic, I visited two new libraries on campus. Amazing collections. I ended up in this tiny corner of the Education library, which houses old editions of classics for children, language study guides, anthologies, etc… Some beautiful editions. And I ventured into the depths of the Art & Architecture library. Hard to tell from the first floor, but the basements are packed. Lovely smell of books. Glad to finally be finding these places – I’ve missed having that assurance of being able to find what I need.

OK, because SNL was, in selected parts, hilarious, here are some quotes:

Tina Fey on Weekend Update, 10/29/05: "Yesterday...Libby was indicted...for more on this story, ask Scooter, apparently that mo fo will tell you anything!"

Tina Fey on W.U., 10/29/05: "A new poll shows that 66% of Americans think President Bush is doing a poor job of handling the war in Iraq, and the remaining 34% think that Adam and Eve rode dinosuars to church."

Rachel Dratch playing Harriet Miers, addressing the issue of being/ thinking she was unqualified: "But then I thought, you know what... a man wouldn't second guess himself like this. I mean, Donald Rumsfeld never says "Hey, I can't be Secretary of Defense, I never even served in the army!" Right? Porter Goss doesn't say, "Hey, I can't run the CIA, I don't even have any intelligence experience." And Mike Brown didn't say, "I can't run FEMA, I'm the Head of the Arabian Horse Assocation, for Pete's Sake!" I mean, we're all unqualified, why am I the only one who has to admit it?"


In further political news, I'm hoping for a good fight against Samuel Alito's nomination. Bush says Alito has "a deep understanding of the proper role of judges in our society. He understands that judges are to interpret the laws, not to impose their preferences or priorities on the people." That's funny, because in the early 90's, he was in favor of requiring women seeking abortions to inform their husbands (Planned Parenthood vs. Casey). It's not going to be a big secret that the man is not exactly pro-choice. And the last person I want sitting on the Supreme Court, is ANOTHER white man who thinks he knows better than everyone else when life begins & at what point a fetus's "potential life" is more important than the very REAL life of a woman. And if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and abortion is illegal in at least certain parts of the United States, it doesn't mean women won't still have abortions. It's just that the middle, upper middle, and upper class women will travel somewhere else to have one, whereas the poor and working class women will either resort to a "back alley" abortion or go through with the pregnancy. Which will be one more child on the welfare & medicaid lists, which, no surprise here, some Republicans in Congress are currently trying to cut even further (so that we can pour more money into fighting a war that most people in this country disagree with).

Something I'll never be able to figure out: the federal gov., following I believe the evangelical Republicans' qualms, refuses to put any tax money into counseling women about abortion options, or helping low income women obtain abortions. But those qualms are clearly not raised when it comes to entering wars on scanty -- misleading -- even, dare we say it, concocted -- evidence. So basically, tax dollars will continue to support sending young Americans off to a quagmire of a war in which they can kill other very much alive persons. It's a curious thing. If only the radical Republicans had been so worried about innocent lives being lost, back when the administration was trying to convince us to enter a war with Iraq. If half this flurry of activity and research -- this indignation against Miers in large part because she wasn't conservative enough -- had been used to research the charge of weapons of mass destruction & a link with Al Qaeda... well, maybe we wouldn't be at war right now.

-- Rant over (for now) --

Friday, October 14, 2005

For the sake of my reading... this is going to be a brief overview... because this is now the only way that I remember what I do on a day to day basis (otherwise, it really does all blur together).

Last, last Mon: First reading group meeting, where we learned the dreadful news that we might actually have to buy our own books. Update: we have to buy all but one. Boo.

Tues: I turned in my first bit of written work as a grad student -- a response for Memoria (all about Plato... yep, riveting stuff).

Weds: In the evening, I attempted to make sushi. This actually kind of worked, although the rolls weren't very tight, so I had difficulty keeping things together. At one point I was actually hand-fanning the rice as it cooled, with my little decorative paper fan (I followed Joyce Chen's instructions very closely).

Thurs: Enjoyable class, but I had come down with an odd like 3 day "cold" that consisted of a runny (and alternatively congested) nose. Isn't it strange that the nose cycles are the inverse of what you would want? It's runny during the day when you don't want to blow into a tissue in front of people, and then at night when you're not in public, it's too congested to do anything about. Urgh.

Fri: After class, at our Mantis journal meeting, we had a Yiddish composer speak about his projects in creating music for modern Yiddish poetry. Supposedly I was doing work in the afternoon, as I was out all night at the party welcoming first years & re-acquainting w/ 2nd & upper years. Crazy -- I don't know how everyone fit into Joe's apartment... we were packed, and the noise of everyone talking was incredible. Wondered if the neighbors would complain, as we didn't leave till 2 am. I kept the alcohol consumption to a minimum, after my over-the-top screwdriver the previous weekend!

Sat: As might be imagined, I slept till around noon. Then I got to work on finding a bike on Craig's List. I love CL -- I found a bike for $80, w/ bookrack (necessity), and within 4 hours of making my initial call, the seller dropped it off for me. Perfect!

Sunday: With newly acquired bike, met up with Jill for a bike ride to the Menlo Park farmer's market. Easier typed than done. The mythical bike path was no where to be found, and we got lost when we ventured off the campus map's limited representation of surrounding streets. But once I spotted Peet's, I knew we were in the general vicinity (from a random comment made on a website about going to the farmer's market). Great euphoria & sense of accomplishment when we saw the white tents. Be still my heart: local, organic pomegranates. Messy as all hell to eat, as I found out when I burst some seeds at the sink the other day & got red droplets all over a cream colored tank top. Anyway, we had such fun going through the stands... almost everything organic or no sprays... all the farmers into talking about the produce (we got a lesson on rare apple varieties from a 22 year old who claimed to have 20 years of selling experience --black twig, favorite). And, adding convenience to our lives, the farmer's market is in the Trader Joe's parking lot. So I spent under 35$ on over a week's worth of produce, and lots of nice TJ staples (like risotto & polenta... I'm expanding my carbohydrate repertoire. I now have 4 kinds of rice, about 4 or 5 types of pasta, couscous, quinoa, and the above mentioned risotto & polenta). Oh and my new thing: crumbled feta. You can put feta on ANYTHING.

Anyway, afterwards we went to the Hillel House for brunch and jazz... talked to non-English grad students (novel idea), and left in time to do some more reading.

Now this past week has sped by...

Mon: Endless, endless search for the stupid campus bike shop. Misguided directions did NOT help (who can't tell right from left? No, OTHER left). Finally got there, bought a u-lock and bike helmet, got the hell out. Took a zippy trip to Mollie Stone's for essentials (read: Ben and Jerry's that was on sale). Got back, rushed to the talk on taste (about Denise Gigante's new book, which, from what I've heard of it, is amazing). Ducked out early to get to the Review Club meeting -- stomach was growling. Strange to listen to talk about the idea of control over the body (taste, sex) while your stomach is growling. Esp. when you get to talking about essential and nonessential cannibalism. Commiserated with others on this point -- the talk did after all coincide with the dinner hour. Great fun to be with all the English grad students -- talked with Sarah -- planned lunch date.

Tues: Biked to Sarah's for lunch -- Jill had already arrived. Talked about how Sarah catalyzed this huge change in my food habits, which led to my make-up revolution, which influenced my switch to natural household products/ cleaners... Best part of the day, definitely! I then had to register my bike w/ Stanford... the exciting point was getting free bike lights! Yay, I'm visible at night! However, nearly got hit by a car on the way home from Memoria -- don't know if they even stopped at the all-way stop, but I was already halfway across the road, and they clearly were not paying attention. Was immensely disappointed that they didn't stop or yell an apology, or something. When you almost run a bicyclist over on what is, after all, a very bike-laden route, I expect some sort of acknowledgement of wrongdoing! Not the way the world works, I'm told. Anyway, got home, talked to Mom on phone (she sympathized -- whereas Andrew was very blunt: "Well, you've got to watch out. But I'm glad you didn't get killed." Thanks, honey. He didn't seem to grasp the extent of the other party's guilt).

Weds: Got excited about TA-ing in Pedagogy, as we got to hear from undergrads on their experiences. In the evening went on a studio sponsored dinner trip to the Olive Garden. Unfortunately, we didn't split the bill very fairly (at least, not fair in the eyes of those of us who ordered vegetarian dinners which were significantly cheaper than others). But, it was cool to get to know the neighbors. And I discovered I think Tues night, that Lauren, who's in two of my classes, lives next door! Crazy. We agreed as we walked to class together today (arrived late, as I was biking at her walking pace, eek) that we'd never know we live next to anyone.

Thurs: Awesome Intro to Grad class -- Prof. L was there, and I got to talk a little bit about my feminist slant on Burke's rhetoric -- hysteria, Humpty Dumpty, "Adam's fall," and "uterine beginnings." To his credit, Prof. L told us, he did end up switching HIS terministic screen (from "man" to "human"). Didn't know that when I was up in arms while reading... Anyway, we had lunch together, which is always fun, and then I had a brief meeting and reading...

Fri: Hmm. What DID I do today? Class this morning was wonderful, except for the arriving like 2 minutes late part (hate that -- esp. since I was up early and left in time, if only I'd decided to ride my bike... but it was more fun getting to know Lauren a bit more on the walk over). Hmm... great speaker at the Mantis meeting, all about translation. Was tempted to learn Italian and start translating obscure novels. Had an amazing eggplant/ dried tomato/ ricotta cheese sandwich. Met with Prof. R -- about presentation, and life so far here. Very helpful. Visited library, biked home in skirt (glad for a woman's bike -- the lowered bar does make it easier). Now... back to reading. I'm just getting into Cloud Atlas, which has improved considerably now that we're off the Chattham Islands.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Eek before I forget my first week as a graduate student…!

Last Sat.: Jess came over and we hung out, watched some SNL w/ Will Ferrell, & had a regular sleepover! It was cool to just kick back before the craziness started. Sunday the Studio was having a BBQ, so Jessika came over for lunch, and we actually met up with a number of people she knows. I met M.— from the housing office, her friend I think Pete, who seems like a total younger brother (I don’t even have a brother, and I know that’s what he seems like!), and Payula (not sure how to spell her name).

After, I had to completely change, because I smelled like the smoke off the grill… Around dinner time I headed over to the grove by the English dept. for our “Garden Party.” Not to be confused with the Mansfield story of the same name… Ahh I wish I had pictures from everything. I was able to re-meet everyone I met while I was visiting last spring, and get to know some older students as well. I was standing over by a table of food, when Jill & Sarah found me… which was exciting because Sarah was my host last spring, and I think she’s wonderful and brilliant – and I just enjoy listening to whatever she’s talking about. After the party broke up, I retreated to my room for Desperate Housewives, and (possibly) the last good night of sleep for the year…

Monday started off slowly, as the first class I wanted to check out wasn’t till 3:15: Bender’s Enlightenment & Public Sphere course. Everyone went, but I think a number of us decided against taking it because, frankly, the reading load looked out of control. And I’m simply NOT an 18th century person. In the evening, I ended up going to Justin’s w/ James & Jill (all the J’s!)… we had aspirations of watching a really… unique movie, but ended up just talking (along with the roommates). The time kind of flew by, because suddenly we realized that it was nearly 1 am… oops.

Luckily, I also didn’t have class till 3:15 on Tues. I met up with my advisor in the afternoon, which was pretty uneventful because I didn’t have much to ask about, just a general sense of uncertainty. The Memoria class was awesome, and I knew right away that I would stay in it.

Weds: We all had Pedagogy w/ Leher…and then I ended up sitting on a bench in the grove, reading. I walked home with Elda and Lupe, showed them my room, made dinner, and then headed off for the library. It was funny, because I actually was walking right behind Elda & Lupe, but didn’t realize it for a while due to the iPod… Anyway, I was relatively productive at the lib., and then headed home for sleep.

Thurs: First Intro to Grad Studies course… which is awesome, because Jones is a wonderful prof, and it’s just us 9 first year English students. We ended up making coffee, but I was really… up and running. We kind of did the icebreaker of introducing ourselves and saying something “surprising about Stanford” (mine: fall is just not happening). After a very successful class, we all headed over to the Thai place for lunch. I had some lunch stuff w/ me, so I just grabbed a Thai iced tea… odd moment: a bird peed on us, twice! Elda & Jill were hardest hit, but I definitely felt spray… ick. We thought after the first dumping, that we’d be safe, since the bird was probably done. But, we were wrong.

After, I hung out in the Bender room for a while, reading… beautiful view up there, of the foothills and the palm tree tops. Then a brief stay in the TA lounge… It was still incredibly hot out… And, of course, The OC!! The ending song (Alphaville’s Forever Young, as heard in Napoleon Dynamite) was incredibly sad… so I decided to buy it on iTunes (so easy).

Friday: I had one class, the Visual Culture in 19th Century Britain. It sounded really cool, and then we went to Special Collections… I LOVE special collections. Not only did I get to handle a 1st ed. of Rossetti’s Goblin Market (w/ drawings by Dante Rossetti), I also was able to hold and read Katherine Mansfield’s edition of Oscar Wilde’s maxims (including “Wickedness is a myth invented by good people to account for the curious attraction of others”), which was interesting because I remember reading that she attempted to formulate her own Wildean maxims in her journal. So crazy to hold something she read and carried with her… I felt like I had something of a fetish for the material book… rather like the idea of relics, I suppose…

In the evening, most of us met up at Lupe & Elda’s for a pre-party to the grad school community party. Elda poured me a massive screwdriver, so I was pretty done for the night… it was fun socializing though, and talking about things unrelated to the classroom… we waited in line for like half an hour, finally got in, got smooshed in the crowd, I had some water, and then we were herded out, where we talked for at least 40 minutes on the sidewalk. Cindy of the Comp Lit program gave me some plastic cups, since they repossessed mine (even though it was empty and had never contained alcohol). Finally got home… eek 2 am… and slept.

Sat. I headed to the lib. fairly early and met up with Jess for a study session. I visited the TA lounge again… and after seeing where Jess lived, we concluded that neither of us had food… so we went out! To this amazing Indian restaurant, where I ordered my usual chicken tikka masala (the most perfect food of this world), and tried to identify chutneys. We realized that we really don’t know what sauce is what – just that we’ll eat whatever is set before us! As we were putting leftovers into those Styrofoam containers, Jess was holding hers over the candle, and something smelled funny, and the guy at the table over said “what your box!”, and we realized that the whole top had basically melted. Horrible smell, but sooo funny. As Jess says, never a dull moment =)

Back home, I did some more reading, watched SNL, and finally got my laundry done! And Andrew & I have got our webcams working, which make being apart slightly less sad… because at least we can see each other.

This morning I woke up at a decent hour… went to the free Studio 1 brunch (and met up w/ Marissa at her door, strangely, as she was going out for laundry as I was walking by for brunch, so we went together)… walked to the Union for money…talked to Mom while waiting to hear about shopping plans… and luckily got a ride w/ Justin and Jill to Mollie Stone’s (a cute natural foods store). It took me for what seemed like forever to pick up some stuff, mainly produce, as that was what I was missing… Next week I’m going to get up early and walk to the Menlo Park farmer’s market, one way or another!! I need a bike though, at some point, I’m realizing…

Anyway, I got a bit of work done, and then made my usual skillet cornbread for our potluck. Which was soooo fun! We had a huge amount of food, and just gorged ourselves, and talked… and James timed our “silences” – every 7 minutes, till he told us, and we started altering our patterns a bit. Talked about the food dyed cupcakes, TV’s more complicated plots, chickens, cricket, etc.

Ahh... and I came home, and realized, I'm quite happy so far =) Our "cohort love 1" was great, classes are interesting (and challenging), and, well, the climate is a welcome change from MA... (although I miss the beautiful fall, and I'm sure I'll miss the nice pre-April snow).

Now… D.H.’s and more reading…

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I'm at Stanford now!!

The last few days in Oregon were a whirlwind...

The last Thurs. I was home (as in like 9 days ago), Mom and Mer & I first went to the Jacobson's farm for some organic produce, and then got our start on the Surveyor's Ridge trail. We took the half that we didn't take last time. On the way up, Mer found a "gut pile," probably from a bear. It was pretty disgusting. Merrie wanted to cut it open and see what the bear's last meal was. Luckily, she did not do so. The trail was beautiful -- we saw a little hill of rock that we thought was Shell Mt., but ended up not being it. At the top we saw a cross, and found a gravesite. Mer spotted lots of animal tracks -- from deer and elk to bear and cougar. It seemed like it was taking forever to find the end of the trail... we hiked on what looked like an old road, back on a trail (luckily the trail split right where the road started going uphill!), through clearings and through forest. Mom spotted some wild elderberry patches, and shrubs that we used to have back by the trail that led to the clothes lines. At long last, when we were starving and tired of walking, we spotted the trailhead that we started on last time. So we've done the whole trail now, piecemeal.

At home, we wanted something fast... so I tried making basically chicken scampi w/ kale and zucchini, since we had some white wine. Mom was in charge of getting the chicken in chunks, and I took care of the rest.

Friday Mer & I went to visit our dad. We got a fairly early start, got gas in Troutdale because it was like $2.60 something, and then drove for a long, long time. The hwy was beautiful -- lots of big trees and leafy ground cover. It was raining though along the hwy, and multiple construction sites meant getting stopped 3 times. Luckily, it was sunny in town. Anyway, it was great seeing Dad again, and seeing that he was doing well. Cute apartment, Margy seemed in good spirits, and the place where Dad works is right across the street. We chatted for a while, and then drove out to the coast. Kind of like what we used to do when we were little -- walking on the sand, exploring tidepools, and looking for agates and shells. Mer found an agate, but only partial sand dollars. The whole sand dollar is an elusive creature, apparently. We saw many a starfish and sea anemone... Mer was poking an anemone, and I said "I want that" (since we were going to watch Napoleon Dynamite that night, it was on our minds -- if you haven't seen it, that's what this woman says in a funny voice after seeing a tupperware collection with a free model ship thrown in. Hilarious). Anyway, Mer laughed and said she'd put that in her blog. But as you can see from her blog, she hasn't updated in weeks! So I had to pick up the slack. Sorry, Mer =)

We kept seeing these little tiny squid looking creatures on the sand... washed up. Dad thought they were little cuttlefish. Maybe a batch of eggs went awry... hard telling. The entire beach was practically deserted... and I loved that there were caves and a tunnel to another beach that you could only get to during low tide... and at which you could get stuck during high tide. Beautiful area, and a nice sunny day, with just a few clouds. Dad spotted a bunch of pelicans, which we watched diving into the waves. Afterward, driving, we saw a large deer cross our path. A black tail, I think Mer said.

For dinner we had pizza... and then we watched Napoleon Dynamite. I got sad about leaving everything all over again, and Dad and Margy were like "Stay with us!" Something about leaving MHC, leaving home, then leaving Madison & Andrew, and now leaving home again.... eek. But we eventually started the movie, which made me laugh. We were able to get me a toothbrush, and Mer & I popsicles, since the store across the street is open 24 hours. I hadn't really packed thinking that we'd stay overnight, but it ended up working out.

Sat. morning we got up early -- at 6:45 am -- and quickly got our stuff together. All I had clean was a sweater, so, I wore a sweater, which was fine in the morning, but gradually became too warm. Hugged and said our goodbyes, and then we were off... We JUST beat the construction, we saw them setting up as we cruised by. Yes!!

On the way home we stopped at Troutdale again for gas, and one of the attendants recognized us, so I explained that we'd been driving a lot! In Hood River we decided to visit Grammy, despite our being kind of unkempt. But it's always fun visiting Grammy, so she got us both feeling better. She was telling us about her days at boarding school when she was younger... and taking night classes while helping to keep the boarding house going... and leaving business school for a job in Hood River. She wants pictures of our "digs" so she can see where we're living -- so I must do that today, now that the apt. is basically together.

Anyway, back home we had lots of packing to do -- Mer more than me, since Mom had done lots of mine for me (thank God!) I made a quick dinner of pasta & "roasted pepper sauce," which was a rendition of a recipe I found on a pasta box. Turned out well, and then I rushed off to pick blackberries along the ditch before the last light faded. I picked as many as I could easily get to, called Dad since he wanted to know how I was doing, and then hurried back in the dusk to meet up with Mer & Bosun.

We left for Corvalis early Sunday morning... not as early as we'd hoped to, but still a decent hour. We unloaded Mer's stuff, toured the co-op, which is SO MUCH NICER than Reed was! and went on some shopping expeditions (during which I found a few things too, including hangers, Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap, and a wicker hamper). We took another trip to Subway (funny since Mer & I had just eaten at a Subway on our way to Dad's on Friday), said our goodbyes, and rushed off to Jerry's in Myrtle Creek. The whole way I was going to be in the back of the truck now -- on the way to Corvallis I'd just driven w/ Mer in the Jeep. Anyway, we pulled into Jerry's around 7:30 or 8, talked, and then his daughter, Cassie, drove us to the nearest grocery store to pick up something fast for dinner... which for me meant a veggie burrito. And after dinner, we girls shared a pint of Ben & Jerry's... Just as an aside, Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt is just as good as the ice cream, I don't know how they manage it. And Andrew and I had this chocolate frozen yogurt with brownie bites in it over the summer, and that was impressive, too. Makes you wonder why they don't make lower fat versions of more ice creams... Didn't one of the founders of Ben and Jerry's recently have like a heart attack or something? I remember two ice cream gurus had heart problems, as explained in Supersize Me, a found of Ben and Jerry's and a founder of Baskin-Robbins. Anyway, back to the narrative...

That night I slept quite peacefully on the couch, got up early, and we all headed out at what was a decent hour but not as early as I'd hoped to leave. We drove A LOT on Monday... took pitstops at a Pacific Crest Trail trailhead, at a market for ice cream, later for gas before hitting SF. Andrew gave us directions that worked well till I got us going like north instead of south on 101... but we made it into Palo Alto. Unfortunately, we didn't realize we'd need directions to the motel, too... who knew that El Camino Real passes through like 5 different towns? And that we'd see like 3 different Super 8's? Argh. We finally made it, with another grocery store dinner in arms...

Tues. morning we went to pick up my keys, and then wandered all over looking for Studio 1. Let me tell you this now: Studio 1 is impossible to find. The sign that says "Studios 1 & 2" really only points to #2. And Studio 1 is not marked. At all. No signs, nothing. So we finally found it, on foot, and as Mom and Tim went to get the truck and repark, I headed up to see my home for the year... I was very happy! More storage than I had anticipated, everything looked new and clean, and more spacious than I had imagined. Ahh.

So after getting my previously owned crap into the apt., it was time to buy more. Mom and I had lunch at Ikea and then shopped till we dropped... got lost in the rain on the way to Wal-Mart, got new directions from Andrew, made it to Wal-Mart, Trader Joe's, and Target... and then promptly got lost. I think this was another Becky thing, where I was like, I think we're going the wrong way, let's turn around, and then got us lost. Basically, we went the OPPOSITE way from campus, toward Mountain View... got quite lost, and to top things off, the traffic lights seemed out from the storm, all just flashing red, so everything was backed up and gridlocked. Eek! We FINALLY made it home around 8 pm... We decided on a nice dinner at the Olive Garden, which we all enjoyed.

The next day Mom and I made a similar route for last minute stuff and grocery shopping, only this time without getting lost. Another Ikea trip for lunch and a throw blanket and trash cans, Target and Wal-Mart for a TV & sheets & mattress pad, Trader Joe's for tons of food... then we got to the motel in time for a swim. Bit cold, but once you're in, if you keep moving and swimming, you're fine. Ahh I love swimming. Tim sat poolside while Mom and I did some leisurely laps. Anyway, for dinner we went to the Boston Market that was also really close to the motel (we walked, and could have walked the night before to the Olive Garden but no one believed me that it was really close & easier than getting the truck turned around w/ U-turns). Afterwards, Mom and I did laundry at my place, and took a trip to Safeway for last minute stuff. Then she left to sleep at the motel, and I stayed to do a few more things and spend my first night in my studio.

Thurs. Mom and Tim helped me with things I can't do (i.e. things involving a tool box), and then we got an antenna for my tv at Target. By that time they needed to leave... very sad to say goodbye! I loved having them here to explore & set up with me. Luckily I got together with Jessika later, as we crashed a new faculty meet-and-greet & took some cookies, and eventually found the grad school mixer. We met one chemistry student, Ngon, and talked about bugs & learning tips, etc. After, I accompanied Jess in her pursuit to reclaim her bedding, which was stored at her advisor's house. Later, we watched the OC (which was horribly fuzzy on my TV, next time I've got to see if anyone's watching in the lounge!!), ate popcorn, and watched A Midsummer's Night Dream, despite getting quite sleepy! Jess slept over, as it was late and we were both exhausted. And the bed, let's face it, is huge. It takes up like half my studio space!

Anyway, so yesterday was my first like English specific thing... an orientation, where we met the grad studies director, chair of the dept, and the director of the dual Phd in Humanities program. It was great chatting, catching up, planning OC and Desperate Housewives nights, and asking the third years all manner of questions... One of the co-chairs of the Review Club, Claire, was excited that I knew Madison and was used to the farmer's markets, and advised me to visit the Menlo Park farmer's market here on Sunday mornings. So I think I'm going to take a very long walk tomorrow to do just that, and get my bearings around this place!

I was actually surprised I didn't get lost yesterday, going from the EV Community Ctr, to Old Union for my ID, to building 460. I got to the orientation waaay early... and read my newspaper. Anyway, it only took me 13 minutes to walk to my studio, so I don't know if I'll really need a bike or not. Guess we'll see after this farmer's market tomorrow. I'm just used to walking and hiking, but who knows... maybe I'll become a bike convert.

After getting home, Jess and I got together, as I made pesto and we just hung out and watched some Super Nanny (which was what the one station that I get really well was playing).

Kinda strange to wake up here with nothing much to do -- but I know that won't be the norm! Time to do laundry, now...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I’m overdue for an update…

I flew into Oregon last Sunday (the fourth), and was both happy to see Mom and Mer at the airport (I sneaked up on them and surprised them at security) and sad to be sooo far away from WI. Definitely was having second thoughts about the whole going to school in separate parts of the country thing…

Well, luckily there has been plenty to keep me busy—

Monday Mer & I went blackberry picking up at the ditch, and took some cool pictures. Well, I thought they were cool. Upon arriving home, we found that we had actually picked plenty for a pie. After dinner, we headed back for an extended picking session (as in, each picking nearly a coffee can’s worth of berries… Mer was ready to go home before we had quite gotten to the top of the containers, but she might have been right… it was getting more and more dangerous to trample into the pricklies looking for ripe berries), so that the next day Mom and I could make jam. So that was my big activity on Tues. – finally learning to make jam! Basically, it involves standing over some very hot water at the stove (with the jars in it), stirring the very hot jam mixture, and then trying to pour this mixture into the hot jars without spilling too much of what’s essentially magenta dye with seeds in it. In the evening we watched Supersize Me, which everyone enjoyed, and talked about food.

Weds., after Mer got home from work, we finally went floating! This was an event, as it wasn’t warm enough in June to do this, and way back last summer, I was only here for chilly weather. So it was my first float for two years – not much has changed, of course, the water is still freeeeezing… but we did kind of “pick up” a black lab, who followed us all the way down to our house, swimming most of the way. This dog was still energetic though, and we threw sticks for her for about half an hour before deciding we were tired out before her. She was still belly flopping into the ditch, sending up sprays of water, and jumping about waiting for us to throw the stick yet again… Some creatures would find retrieving sticks tedious… not labs. Unfortunately, she had a collar, so we had to take her back up the ditch to return to her home… So tempting to keep wandering dogs!

Thurs. was the famous Rosauer’s cereal sale – so Mom and I went food shopping early in the day, beating the rush. Because I find it very important to beat the rush when it comes to supermarket sales – I’ve seen what happens when Ben & Jerry’s goes on sale for 2.50$ a pint. They had my favorite organic Optimum cereals for like $1.69 a box; I stocked up! When Mer got home, we went for another round of blackberrying (not to be mistaken for Bunburying). This wasn’t the forced march of picking for jam, though – we just wanted some more berries on hand for fresh eating (I like them on my cereal because even cereals that include dried fruit never give you enough of it, in my opinion. And sometimes the dried blueberries in my Optimum Power cereal sink to the bottom).

Friday was busy – Bosun had an appointment at the vet (he’s like totally deaf now, P.S.), and I had an appointment with my oral surgeon in the Dalles. Unfortunately, my oral surgeon didn’t bother telling me that they had moved into a new office since I saw them in June. Mom and I felt like we were in the Twilight Zone… I realized that I was pretty doped up last time I was there, but I knew I had had surgery in that room that looked completely different! So we finally found their number in a handy phonebook on our way out of the building, and arrived late. They apologized, and I forgave them, because they were so friendly & I liked their new office oodles more than the past one. Anyway, it seems my slow-to-heal lower left jaw is OK for now, but they can do “plastic surgery for the gums” if my dentist ever thinks the roots aren’t sufficiently covered.

After that, Mom and I were free to shop – at Fred Meyer’s, Staples, and then back home at Wal-Mart, I think… And I still can’t find enough notebook options in recycled paper. It annoys me greatly that notebook makers are either marketing to people who want style, OR people who want recycled products. What about someone who wants a better-than-generic notebook, but also wants to be a little friendly to the environment? There’s a niche market here waiting to be filled! Come on, FiveStar, Mead, someone!

Anyway, Mer ended up picking up Boson from the vet, as Mom and I were running late after a stop at Rosauer’s. In the evening, I helped Mom make a rhubarb pie… because I love those, and when’s the last time you saw rhubarb at a supermarket? Ahh sometimes I wish I were an organic farmer – there are so many specialty crops that it would be cool to bring back…

Saturday the apartment supplying continued – visited the Senior Center rummage sale, yard sales, etc… I found a cool retro wooden dish drying rack, a sea-glass plate (I just had to have it, even though it might not be the MOST useful thing…), a new cutting board, a silverware separator, and some blue cords for Mer (that fit her perfectly – I always know if they’re a tad too small for me, they’ll fit her perfectly).

In the afternoon I was in charge of making another batch of skillet cornbread for the potluck picnic Mer was bringing me to… After a brief stop at Freddy’s, we got to Mer’s co-worker’s/boss’s house in the Dalles. Unfortunately… it was too cold to swim in the pool. But it was tons of fun anyway – Allison had cooked her own homemade fried chicken, & corn & coleslaw. Someone brought a salad & fruit salad, and it was a ton of food. And dessert… Allison had made this banana pudding with bananas & vanilla wafers… Mer’s coworker Jane had made a fruit tart w/ peaches and blueberries. I wish I had the recipes. I finally understood why Mer enjoyed work – her coworkers are awesome. Allison was constantly making us laugh, and everyone was just fun to be around. A very successful picnic, even though it was indoors!

Sunday Mer left for Matt’s, and Mom and I were planning on hiking on the mountain… until Mom discovered a flat tire on the jeep. So after watching Tim change the tire to something that would at least get her to the tire place in the morning (and helping a token amount – I’d have a slightly better idea now of what would need to be done in that situation), we resorted to plan B: hiking the logging trail along the ditch. On the way, we saw the flock of like 7 or 8 wild turkeys coming up from the orchard and flying across the ditch. I’d wondered what it would be like to see them in a flock, after Mer and I have repeatedly come upon their tracks. We got up to where Mer & I have stopped before – at a sweeping circle on the dusty road, that starts going more steeply uphill. I wanted to sit on this log on the bluff above the trail while we ate our snack, but after trying to scale the steep & crumbling-beneath-our-feet slope, I resorted for a rock along the trail.

I made fried rice for dinner – which turned out well. Not too mushy… perhaps because we left the rice to cool in the fridge uncovered.

Monday morning we got up early to take Mom’s jeep to the tire place, which is conveniently located next to Wal-Mart. I got some basic kitchen stuff… like a salt and pepper shaker, whisk, & food chopper… I know that Wal-Mart isn’t the BEST company… but, well, they do have incredibly low prices for basics when you’re trying to stock up an apartment. There are some things I’m waiting on Ikea for, but other stuff I’d rather get here and avoid the like 8% sales tax in CA!

Anyway, the tires were soon on, and we ate a quick lunch at Jackson Park, swung by the health center, and then I sat in another park listening to a podcast (Living on Earth, my favorite) and talking to Andrew and sitting in the sun.

I was in charge of dinner – enchiladas w/ leftover rice, black beans, and leftover chicken that I shredded. Getting used to putting a meal together, so hopefully I’ll have time to cook at grad school!!

Yesterday was fun – Mom and I finally got up to the mountain for a hike. We drove up to Cloud Cap, and had to take a detour along the Timberline Trail since the old bridge toward Elk Cove was washed out. The new bridge is way scary… just some planks of wood with a cable railing on one side, over rushing water and huge boulders. Eek. We only ran into one other person hiking (but he was going on the round the mountain loop). Lots of steep hills to traverse… we made our destination two little waterfalls, as it was getting late. The sky kept clearing up as the day wore on, and the clouds moved off the mountain… so we did get some beautiful views of the peak of Mt. Hood, along with the panorama of the other mountains (St. Helen, Adams, and Rainier way off in the distance so that it blended in with the clouds), bluffs, and the eastern desert. Unfortunately, my brand new batteries burned out, so I didn’t get pictures of everything… I resorted to my camera phone at some point. Anyway, on the way in, while we were eating on the rocks, Mom spotted two deer. I was too slow, and just saw the one, which looked young, switching its tail and heading into the forest.

The real animal watching was on the way home, though, as we rattled down the 9 mile dirt road in the jeep. We saw three deer on the roadway, then another by itself, so we were looking out for wildlife. At one straightway, a young looking black bear ran across the road! It was the first time I’d seen a bear in the wild, and Mom and I were super excited. I would guess it was around 200, 250 pounds, and it must have crossed within like 10 or 15 feet of the jeep. Amazing. We got out and looked around for him, but couldn’t find a trace, except a little deer path up the hill. So cool! I wish I had had a camera at the ready!

Anyway – that was my excitement for the day! I decided to do the cooking, so we had spaghetti (w/ Mom’s fresh Greek oregano and tomatoes – I love gardens) and salad. I used the whole wheat pasta I’d found at Wal-Mart, and I think I’ve converted Mum – it’s so much better than the usual bleached and then enriched variety. And just an 8th of the box has 10% of your daily iron, which I think is incredible…

That’s all for now – waiting for Mer to arrive home with our salt water taffy!!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

In light of the fact that I'm flying back to Oregon tomorrow, I thought perhaps I should update one more time...

Friday -- After I last blogged, Andrew arrived home, & in good spirits about classes. As predicted, it seems that we need to just start classes to get back in the swing of things and feel less worried. So we talked -- and ate leftovers on the patio -- and took care of stuff around the place, before starting on our afternoon plans. We wanted to go on a bike ride, since Andrew bought two bikes way back when through Craig's list, which we'd only used like once before together. Perfect day for it -- sunny but not sweltering, hardly a cloud in the sky. After a bit of hectic riding through the busy streets, we reached the bike path around the lake. I don't know how long a ride Andrew was planning on -- but he was surprised that we got as far as we did! We stopped along the lake at a bench to catch the views -- and sat down on a dock in the shade. Idyllic -- if only it wasn't always at the back of my mind that I have to leave soon! From there, we ended up veering off the lake path to follow a little stream for a while through a quaint looking neighborhood & dog running field. Reminded Andrew of Amsterdam. Reminded me of some vague childhood impressions of a different time's town. Lots of lilypads in the stream, ducks, fields... you get the idea. On the way back, we stopped off at a park area along the lake -- got more views & pictures -- and then headed home. Luckily at this point the sun wasn't in my eyes. On the way out of town, the sun had been shining at just such an angle to slip in above my sunglasses... ergh.

After cleaning up, it was about time to fix dinner... We'd decided to make fried rice -- w/ Thai basil & cashews -- and Andrew made a perfect batch. I like eating in the park, and the night previous had been fun picnicking, so we took dinner down to the park again and ate off the little plastic plates that came w/ Andrew's picnic backpack. This time, again, a kite flier was practicing in all the wind (but he wasn't as good as the guy we'd seen the night before). Sad though... watched the sun set & cuddled.

Back home, we put our plan into action to avoid moping around the apartment. So, since we'd never tried frozen custard, we headed to our neighborhood Culver's & ordered the day's special flavor: Payday. Of course, we added fudge (which, as Andrew said, has nothing on Herrell's (which, by the way, we saw the Food Network covering on Unwrapped (something about their smoosh-ins & banana splits))). Frozen custard is sooo much better than frozen yogurt! At first we thought it was just glorified frozen yogurt, but we were oh so wrong. Much creamier, and richer.

Then, in the tradition of lazy evenings, we mini golfed! This course was far superior to the one in the Dells -- Wizard of Oz themed, w/ lots of big statues of animals, a slide, water everywhere (that I got caught in on multiple occasions), and all sorts of tricky shots that I DEFINITELY didn't make. It seems that I can't exactly aim, and hit the ball straight ahead... no, it always ends up veering off course. Andrew seems to think this has something to do with the fact that I can't tell when I'm hitting backwards (wrong side or something). It was pretty crowded, which was fun, except the loudest portion of this crowd consisted of very loud 13-year-olds singing The Little Mermaid songs. Ick.

After all the excitement -- Andrew won the first round, I the second, and he definitely won overall by over ten points -- we headed home. Watched some OC and some trashy tv to take our mind off the imminent departure...

Today we slept in -- went to the farmer's market & checked out the preparation for Taste of Madison -- had lunch (something w/ chickpeas & red peppers & tomatoes & zucchini) -- did laundry (someone who deserves to do laundry forever in Hades, while pushing a stone up a hill, opened all three doors to our dryers in the start of the cycle, which delayed and irritated us) -- went grocery shopping at Woodman's (sadness! I love Woodman's) -- went to the Square for Taste of Madison (first stop: Andrew: pad thai; Becky: squash curry (the best!!) second stop: Andrew: more pad thai, but warmer this time, and better, I think; Becky: more curry, but this one more coconutty, which reminded me of that disgusting Blanchard salad I had at MHC that made my stomach react VERY badly, but I'm trying to retrain my tastebuds to not freak out, since not every dish w/ coconut milk is as disastrous as those made back at MHC) -- moved our blanket from the Square to the park, and sat watching the remnants of a sunset, and two guys who jumped into the lake, and some woman in a little dress and ridiculously high heels made in the style of sneakers (bizarre) -- dropped everything off at home, and then took one last walk around the Capitol to see the dismantling of the T.O.M. vendors -- I started packing -- watched some more trashy TV (nothing like Elimidate to make you forget your problems) -- and now it's time for the last OC episode on disc three (I think I'll just read a review of the last half of the second season, it's still all fresh in my mind, but I want to be ready for Thurs - the season is starting!!!)

I've loved Madison -- and staying with Andrew -- and doing fun summery stuff -- we looked at pictures today that we've taken throughout the summer, and made recipe lists of the dinners we've made. As sad as it is to go... I know I'll love coming back for my next visit!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Eek the summer is winding down... here's what I've been up to lately.

Last Tuesday: We took another trip into the Wisconsin Dells -- not to a waterpark, though, in light of both the cooler weather & the recent outbreak of infection at a NY waterpark. So instead, I thought it was time for a visit to the deer park.

I'm pretty sure that I saw the National Geographic article on the deer park... We bought little packets of crackers to feed the deer, which are specially made since deer can't have iodine, apparently. The park was ridiculous -- like some alternate world where natural laws don't apply. It had a petting zoo and two separate enclosures of free ranging deer. Off to the sides of the paths, they had smaller fenced in areas for various rarer species. The deer in the two main areas, though, were either in an enclosure that they could go in and out of freely (to either assault people for food or take a nap, depending) or walking along the paths with the visitors. I was rather excited about trying to pet the deer... my favorite was a buck with huge velvety antlers (which he kept hitting me in the head with as he went after the crackers). Andrew took TONS of pictures.

Afterwards, since we had some time to kill, we checked out mini golf. We settled at a smaller place with 9 holes, since I just wanted to see if I was bored out of my mind or not. Turns out, mini golf is pretty fun -- although I lost, miserably!

Soon it was time to head over to the Big Sky drive in theater -- we sat in the entrance line and watched the sun set -- which was beautiful... it lit up the field next to us, golden & highlighting all the buzzing insects. We'd decided to eat dinner there, so we had not-the-healthiest selection of grilled cheese & chicken strips & onion rings & fries... luckily I had brought some pears along to at least give us some token healthiness. This time we were at the first screen... we watched Wedding Crashers (fun, but predictable), and European Gigilo (gross in parts, but it took place in Amsterdam, which got Andrew excited). Like last time, we got to watch the moon, too (although on the way home, the planets weren't aligned in such a way as to overlap the moon & capitol building... which happened on our first trip back late at night from the theater).

Weds: We waited all day for cable (which was eventually installed, but improperly, which you'll hear about if you keep reading). In the evening, we brought a pesto pasta & fruit salad picnic over to a "park" for an orchestra performance. We sat on the outskirts, since we had a blanket & needed grass, and it was all parking lot in front or already-claimed-green-space. Odd place for it -- although it was called a park, it was really more of an industrial park, basically the parking lot of some businesses. Anyway, the music was lovely, and during the 1812 Overture, they started the fireworks. We packed up and started heading out, but had to stand and watch the last of the fireworks before getting too far away.

Afterwards, we took a random trip to Target (as in, I wanted some new pens & this scarf I'd seen earlier, and Andrew needed to find a birthday card), and then headed home.

Thurs: As the cable wasn't working properly, Andrew called up & asked for help, which was supposed to arrive by 5 pm. That time came and went... So we took an emergency trip to Willy St. Co-op for some sushi making supplies, assembled some rolls, and then had to put them away as the emergency crew arrived. These two guys knew what they were doing, and had everything working before they left. But, we still had OC to watch, so, we didn't really use the cable too much yet!

Friday: Friday kind of got loss in the shuffle. I was in my one week of limbo between insurance plans, & we were playing with the cable... I asked Andrew too, and neither of us can remember what we did...

Sat: Farmer's Market! And then in the afternoon we wandered around State St., looking at retro clothing places, and exploring the shops. I enjoyed the free trade place, & the community pharmacy (where I found a stainless steel water bottle!!)

Sun: There were about 3 festivals going on this weekend, so Sun. early we made it to the Middleton Festival (in celebration of Money magazine or some such publication rating them the #1 town to live in). We participated in the pie & ice cream eating social -- I found raspberry rhubarb, and Andrew went for the safe apple. We looked at the craft booths, weaving around doll's clothes, the beer tent, and families wearing matching "I believe in Jesus" t-shirts.

After, we checked out the Atwood Festival, which was more our speed... Hippie music, lots of environmentally aware people who rode their bikes, political buttons & bumper stickers... People just seemed healthier & friendlier than in Middleton (not to mention that finally we weren't in an ENTIRELY white suburb).

Anyway, the festival hopping was cut short to visit Woodman's for some enchilada supplies & other food stuffs...

Monday: We headed to the Botanical Gardens, which were GORGEOUS. A rose garden, sunken garden, herb garden, Thai pavilion, & green expanses... Around certain flower beds, we were counting over ten monarch butterflies fluttering about at once. Lovely place.

After being in the sun all afternoon, we returned home to clean up before heading over to Ariel's to join her family & Molly for dinner. Amazing vegetarian dish w/ pasta & feta... I'm definitely stealing the recipe =) Talked about eating vegetarian, Apple computers, MHC, ESB advisors, Robin McKinley (and her 23 pairs of Reeboks!), etc... Sad to leave, and know that they're heading back to MHC and I'm not there!!

Back home, Andrew ended up baking chocolate chip cookies (we substituted Kahlua for vanilla, and Andrew did something crazy with peanut butter and crushed peanuts, but it turned out well). And, of course, we watched more OC Season 2.

Tues: We took one last trip out of town... On our way to Devil's Lake, we decided to stop off at Mirror Lake instead. Pretty cool but partly sunny out... so we took out au paddleboat, and explored the lake a bit. Beautiful...on one side we looked at the rock layers, and in general just enjoyed the scenery. We had a snack (yum, plums), and then headed back to shore. The rest of Mirror Lake didn't seem like the place to sit and read, so we headed down to Devil's Lake to sit & enjoy the view & read a bit. So pretty... said my goodbye's to Devil's Lake, till next summer, and we headed home.

Weds: We tried to get up early, and went to Pedro's for lunch. I enjoyed eating outside, but the service was pretty bad. Strange... it was much better in the Dells when it was crazy busy, than in Madison on a very quiet day after the lunch rush. We still hadn't gotten our food, when others who had ordered right before us were LEAVING. And when the food did come, my vegetarian tamales were missing two key ingredients in the filling, and was basically burned onto the plate. Kind of strange. We weren't very sold on the place after that.

Anyway, afterwards we had fun -- we headed to the arboretum, took a footpath that was kind of a dead end, and then drove more into the thick of the area. We walked down a hill and through a park-like atmosphere of various trees spaced along the grass. Eventually we came upon the visitor's center, and then went through the prairie/ savannah spaces on our way to the ponds. At one mucky wetland area, we saw some frogs (one type identified as leopard frogs by some official looking sorts who stopped by and looked at the water level). Lots of green algea on the water, which made the whole scene seem, well, like various shades of green. At the other larger pond, Andrew was saying "I think the other one was better --- TURTLES!" So we saw some sort of water turtle, and then stood together waiting to perhaps see more. No luck, though. Pretty though, blue skies, trees, limbs...

This was also the day of the hurricane suddenly affecting gas prices -- wow, suddenly a 40 to 50 cent jump overnight... Andrew filled up at $2.99, and I regretted that I didn't have him do it the day before when it was at like $2.74. Listening to NPR today, I can't believe New Orleans is, well, gone, even though I never visited so I don't exactly have an image in my mind. I enjoyed one commentator asking, why bother to rebuild, when we usually don't even build a housing complex on a flood plain, let alone an entire city? I'm all in favor of that, because, as was also pointed out, by the time the city is repaired, all the residents will have integrated into other communities. Maybe it's best not to defy nature, and just realize that unless they're really commited to building up the levees properly, that the site should be abandoned in favor of something better... And in further NPR induced rants, why are we driving suv's (and why is the government supporting it through tax break incentives) that get MAYBE 20 miles per gallon, when we have the technology to drive vehicles that get more like 200, 300 miles to the gallon? (At least according to the commentator I heard). But I don't doubt that we could become much less reliant on oil, which would put us in a position of much more control over our economy & environment, if we had the public & government support to make that a priority. I'd rather we had spent the 200 billion from Iraq so far, on making ourselves less reliant on oil... argh.

Anyway, after a quick trip home to clean up, we went to the Comp. Sci. department picnic. It was kinda unorganized, but fun -- and they had Spotted Cow beer! Soon after we arrived, I recognized a woman who I'd met as my tour guide during my visit back in March. Megan was there with her gf, so we talked a bit, and then another woman I remembered, Andrea, was there with her husband. It was great to see them, and talk shop a little. So Andrew & I both knew people to socialize with, and met others. All sorts of interesting characters... And luckily they had veggie burgers!

Back home, it was time for a salad (since there was no vegetation served at dinner), some OC, and dessert.

Thurs: Andrew had some fellowship meeting to go to, so we walked down State St. to the university, and I sat on the lawn and read for a while. After the music playing got a little too religious for me, I decided it was time to migrate to the terrace. I was just reading the paper, when Andrew got out of his meeting. We soon headed back home, running a few errands along the way.

Back home, it was sad because it was like, school really is starting, and I really do have to leave soon... But we decided to have a nice picnic at the park down the street, so we packed up our pesto dinner & set up on the little hill. A couple people were doing some extreme kite flying, so we watched them, and then watched the sun go down. After lounging for a bit, we returned home, and did some shopping at Willy St... their organic produce is amazing... it made a pretty good fruit salad =)

We'd gotten Return of the Living Dead III in the mail, which wasn't as good because it was more serious, but didn't have the storyline or acting to be serious... I preferred the comedies. Anyway, the redeeming point was the fact that the same artist who plays Julie Cooper in the OC, played Julie in RLD3! Soooo strange... and disturbing.

Also started a scrabble game... we'll have to play that online together even when we're at school apart.

Then, to unwind, we had dessert & some more OC =)

Well I guess that's it... this morning Andrew headed off to his first classes... and I can't believe I'm leaving so soon. It's really sad, because, well, I could have decided to stay here... and live together, and go to school together... I guess, I just hope I love being at Stanford enough that I can cope with not getting to see Andrew as much.

Anyway -- more later...