Monday, December 31, 2007

This Is Me, Waving Good-Bye to 2007

All's quiet here at Nesting Ground. My brother and M. left Saturday for Madison-Freaking-Wisconsin; the girls are ensconced in their playhouse; the SU is upstairs viewing some sort of sporting event and—thanks to the gift of a major grill apparatus from my parents—enjoying an adobo panini (adonini?). I'm stationed at my desk, trying in vain to de-clutter, but somehow only managing to bury myself deeper in the dross. What IS all this stuff?


Saturday was also the twins' (I recently discovered that the kids at school often refer to them as "twisters," a combo of "twins" and "sisters") birthday, and the SU took them to have their ears pierced. So, basically, they left the house as eight-year-olds and returned as teenagers. Disconcerting. Then, that night we had dinner at some friends', and I spent most of the evening holding their four-month-old baby boy and silently freaking out that we had raised three people who were once his very same size. Disconcerting.


I just proofed my work for the Winter 2008 issue of Achiote Seeds where I share beautiful space with Javier Huerta, Francisco Aragón (translating Geraldo Rivera), and Mónica de la Torre. I don't really remember where I was in my head when I wrote the pieces, or how I came to choose certain words or images. I remember early on sending a few to Oscar, who was so helpful. As usual, I'm not at all sure my writing deserves to sit alongside that of the others represented in this issue, but as a new year's gift to myself, I will try to believe that it does. Oh! And I forgot to tell Jean that I used a line from one of her poems. Jean? I used a line from one of your poems, and I thank you for it.


That's it, for this, the final day of 2007. Happy new year to my blogroll, other assorted readers and/or lurkers (who are you, oh loyal reader from Moulineaux, Haute-Normandie?), Delfinos, and you, and you, and you.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I've been feeling bad about leaving such a negative post up on the 'ol blog, especially since my malaise actually lifted a few days ago. By then, though, I'd left so many seasonal to-do's undone, that I was in quite the bind (imagine your Nesting Ground Mistress bound with ribbon, gagged with a wad of wrapping paper, pine needles scattered in her hair). But in a burst of energy fueled by Diet Pepsi (what? it was on SALE), fear, and warped determination, I have successfully caught up on everything from sending out those last few cards, to making my twice yearly pilgrimage to Pape Meat Co. to secure a prime rib roast (originally, I had wanted a crown roast of pork, but when I was in on Friday, they told me it was impossible. Then late last night, Mr. Pape himself called and triumphantly announced he would have it for me on Monday. "Oh Mr. Pape," said I. "I was in today and picked up prime rib." Ever jovial, he said, "Next time, then! Next time I promise!")

Happiness and/or approximations of happiness:

1) Tom Jones/Art of Noise cover of Prince's "Kiss." (Oh, shush now. You love it)

2) When reading collides. While reading a review of two physically gigantic books of essays/book reviews by Edmund Wilson, I discover that his essay, "The Wound and the Bow," refers to Sophocles's play about the nasty, festering wound on Philoctetes foot, and—can you believe it?—I just finished reading the play. I'm lying! I have NOT just read the play, but there is a section in Arnold Weinstein's A Scream Goes Through the House that discusses it, and I DID just read that. So, well, that counts a little.

3) The sound you heard in the move theatre during the pomegranate scene in "The Kite Runner" was my heart being ripped in two, strewn on the floor, and left for dead. Okay, this doesn't actually count as "happiness," but it does count as "being able to feel." And that's as good a definition of happiness as any other, I suppose.

4) Karito Kids for my girls! None of the nagging guilt produced by purchasing the increasingly creepy American Girls, and possibly—just possibly—some redeeming value. Now I'll just keeping my fingers crossed that 1) the dolls are not somehow laced with the date-rape drug or 2) manufactured using child labor or 3) chock full of lead. *Scream*

5) The Collected Stories by Grace Paley.

6) Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City. How many times must I tell you this before you go? So what if they refer to their appetizers as "shacketizers?" So what if they couldn't stop there and decided to call their shrimp cocktail a "shacktail?" Do not let these piddly details deter you.

7) Ichiban-kan for stocking stuffers!

8) Leftover beef chow fun from a deli on Clement St.

9) My brother is here at Nesting Ground (you may remember that he now resides in Madison-Freaking-Wisconsin)! He is wearing a pair of boots that are making me cross-eyed with jealousy. I'll take a picture later.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

L'enfer, c'est les autres

I am not one of those people who can write, or even blog, when being tormented by what feels like a neverending onslaught of extended family drama. In situations like this, I turn inward. I take comfort in my children and my husband, my parents, my brothers, my friends.

If you don't find me here it's because people—people who know better—are behaving badly. And, well, shame on them.

P.S. approximately 240 lumpia consumed at Thursday's party. New favorite thing? Deep fryer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nesting @ Nesting Ground

Am smack in the middle of a flurry of culinary activity and holiday-ing-ness of the domicile as we prep for a Thursday evening of cheer with 30 or so neighborhood and school folks. I didn't think we could have that many people, but last year my good friend K. did so with much success in a house of similar size. "You just need to be willing to give up some furniture," she said. And she was right: clear out the center of your living room, fill the space with stand-up cocktail tables, candlelight and voila! Instant cozy supper club. Ample room (fingers crossed) for spillover in the dining room, den, and the kitchen.

Look! The spousal unit has already made the mantle all festive-like. Just add fire:

Tree? Check! For the last two years we've gone to cut down our own at a tree farm in Half Moon Bay. Hard to imagine your Nesting Ground Mistress wielding a handsaw, I know. Go ahead, let the idea sink in. Anyways, we found this beauty after a short hike up the mountain:

Gratuitous shot of sexy new Room & Board sofa. Pushed to the side, like I said, to make way for supperclub cocktail tables, like I said:

Now I must return to my kitchen duties. Tonight is empanada night...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Golden Line

Not since Achilles defeated Hektor in the divine cheesiness that was Troy...

Not since Maximus felled Commodus in the spectacle of Gladiator...

Not since Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo struck down...well, the glory that was Rome...

Not since then has a clash between warriors achieved the greatness of the armored bears Iorek Byrnison and Iofur Raknison (called "Ragnar" in the film) in The Golden Compass:

Post-vanquishing, Ian McKellen (who voices Iorek) delivers his line with bellowing magnificence:

"Bears! WHO...IS...YOUR...KING?"

So, obviously I've stopped saying, "I am Beowulf. I will slay your mon-stah."

Friday, December 07, 2007

New Rule: Grammar Doesn't Matter on Friday

I elfed my children:

Filed under things that mothers can't keep themselves from doing.

Should you find yourself with any downtime this weekend, and you end up elfing yourself or your loved ones, you must —in the long-standing tradition of "I'll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours" (but, um, REVERSED)—leave the link in my comments.

Wow. That sentence wasn't even close to grammatical correctitude, but I've no time to waste because...

...tonight I am determined to see The Golden Compass. I only recently devoured the 3-book series, which I had no idea was a huge international phenomenon (head? In sand) with a dedicated cult following (much ballyhoo, for example, about the cinematic Mrs. Coulter being a blonde rather than dark-haired Nicole Kidman). I truly couldn't put the books down. I even read while standing in line at the grocery store. I think I kinda understand Harry Potter madness a little better now.

But first, some holiday shopping. Bundling up now to brave the weather and the frenzy...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

How To Make The Spousal Unit Laugh at Random Moments

When you wake up, say "I am Beowulf. I will slay your mon-stah."
Right before dinner, say "I am Beowulf. I will slay your mon-stah."
While your mouth is full of suds and toothpaste, say, "I am Beowulf. I will slay your mon-stah."



Sasha's Bamboo Cupping Rainwater


Libay's Leaflens


Marianne's Kanlaon

Sunday, December 02, 2007


We have been to San Francisco Ballet's The Nutcracker for, oh, three years in a row now, and while I find it enjoyable, I felt the need—okay, the DESPERATE need—to lobby for a little change-up this year. That's how we ended up at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to watch the ODC/Dance production of The Velveteen Rabbit.

So while there is a lot to be said about the big deal, big-event, get-all-dressed-up, eat-at-a-fancy-place feeling engendered by The Nutcracker, I found the more casual, eat-at-the-MOMA-museum-cafe, and skip-across-the-street-to-enjoy- some-contemporary-dance feeling much more in line with the way I'm feeling this year. Bonus: two Filipino-American dancers in the cast, one of whom was nearly perfect as "the boy." He seemed, at times, to...float.

Afterwards I coerced my little family into taking in (however briefly) the Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination exhibit I've been wanting to see at MOMA.

Of course I had to purchase the fat exhibition book, and now I'm reading all about Cornell so that I can go back on my own and walk through the exhibit again before it leaves. I'm fascinated by the way assemblage and collage are like a container for an artist's personal fascinations/obsessions.

In the exhibition book's text, the writer talks about Cornell's 30-year love affair with riding the elevated trains that serviced Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, and how the fleeting, dissolving landscape shaped his visual vocabulary. I loved all the "bird boxes" like the one above, of course. My favorite was untitled, but described as "Nesting Bird." In it, the bird holds a length of spooled thread in its beak, and it reminded me For some reason.

December, then, is off to a good start.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Post For Which No Title Comes To Mind

Vida is coming up with some doozies (is that how you spell that? is that even an official word?) lately. When I reminded her that she has a dentist appointment coming up on Friday, she said, "Oh, good. I'm looking forward to conquering my fears."


I spent the morning paginating and proofing two manuscripts, which I will (I will, I will, I will) send out before the end of the week. I thank ms. bj for this because she is constantly and thoughtfully posting calls for submissions on the Flips list, and they serve as a daily reminder that I really should open the doors and let my stories wander around more often. Who cares if they come home with black eyes and bloodied lips? At least they will have had a little adventure.


Now, about Lapham's Quarterly, the new endeavor of Harper's famed Lewis Lapham. This first themed issue—"States of War"—is formidable. Crazy. Capable of inducing vertigo. Almost all the 80 or so contributors are dead, and they're all popping out of the grave saying, "Remember when I told you this was how it would play out?" It's the past informing the present in all kinds of interesting ways. Amazing art and photography—not to mention the index-type sidebars reminiscent of Harper's—are also included in the hefty purchase price. My favorite so far is "Eight Wounds Sustained by Alexander the Great." The first two are the best: "Cleaver slash to the head" (aray!) and "Catapult missile to the chest" (putangina!)...


On Thursday I am scheduled to talk to the second graders about writing in general. Vida's teacher asked me to discuss where ideas come from, how to organize, how to transition, how to end. That last one struck me as odd, but Mrs. T. said, "I don't know. They just seem to peter out..." Hahahahaha! I've been there. In fact, I'm there right now...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Calm Before Holiday Storm

Just getting into the rhythm of being back home again, which means that everything is buzzing: washing machine, dryer, dishwasher, Sonicare toothbrush, iPod, laptops. The SU has just built a fire, I've just ordered our holiday cards and baked some cornbread to snack on, and the girls are working on a puzzle. It's all very exaggeratedly cozy.

And that's fine by me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Prefer Silence, Plus The Very Loud Bookstore Warlock

I have escaped to my bedroom for some peace.

Do not tell my children where I am.

They are in the dining room playing round after round of "Connect 4," and the noise level is alarming.

I repeat: do not tell my children where I am.

I don't know how to explain this recent oversensitivity to noise; it's not like my home SUDDENLY became noisy, after all. Last night I couldn't bear the surround sound in the den and chose to express my dismay by saying, "Oh. My. GOD," every few minutes. Lately, I am constantly turning down music, constantly glaring at people who project their voices unnecessarily in hushed places like the library or even certain cafes.

This seems as good a time as any to introduce you to one of the banes of my existence: the very loud warlock who works at one of my local bookstores.

I have nothing against warlocks in general (at least I don't THINK I do), but I do have something against warlocks who are forever shouting about how they are warlocks and explaining their warlock jewelry and special warlock powers and the significance of their tiny little warlock finger tattoos so that the entire store can hear. And also, this warlock is forever directing unsuspecting customers to his personal areas of interest rather than catering to them. Here is a 99.7% true example:

UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMER: Can you tell me where to find the THE KAMA SUTRA?

VERY LOUD WARLOCK: THE KAMA SUTRA? Well, that's okay, I guess, but have you ever heard of THE SECRETS OF TOTALLY AWESOME WARLOCK SEX? I only ask because I have it on my own shelf at home, and it's a terrific reference.

UNSUSPECTING CUSTOMER: Oh? Well, no. I was really looking for...

VERY LOUD WARLOCK: Are you familiar with the double trilogy boxed set of WARLOCK WISDOM/WARLOCK WONDER? NO? You've never heard of it? I find that hard to believe. I'm a little disappointed, to tell the truth. It was a phenomenon in the book publishing industry. Absolutely a phenomenon. I see you're looking at my ring!


VERY LOUD WARLOCK (conspiratorially): Everybody looks at my ring! They're attracted to its power. I'm a warlock...

I can be standing 200 feet away from the guy, and I can hear him. Sometimes I just crouch near the magazines, cover my ears, and scream silently. And then the spousal unit laughs at me. "You better watch it," he says, while spinning his arms around. "He might gather the dark forces." And then I say, "Foolish! Hasn't he said a million times that he uses his power only for good, never for evil?"

The same cannot be said of me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Clumsy Post That Happens When You Haven't Blogged For Days

NEW EXPERIENCE: Teaching the 30 girls in R & V's Brownie Troop to play the ancient game of Cat's Cradle.
COMMENTS: Um, my head almost imploded. No, seriously. I felt my brain splintering into several pieces. Also, I felt a deep and abiding gratitude towards my friend, M., who gamely leads this large and fantastically loud group of seven-year-olds. Another thing: I'm sure I had already mastered Cat's Cradle by their age. How can it be that NONE of them really knew how to play?

VIDA UTTERANCE #1: "I can't tell what's corny and what's not corny."
COMMENTS: This is yet another failing of mine. Filipinos have a special relationship with the word and concept of "corny," which I have apparently failed to nurture.

VIDA UTTERANCE #2 (while looking into the frying pan and espying corned beef hash): "Oh. I was wondering what the unfamiliar smell was."
COMMENTS: See previous comment, replace "corny" with "corned beef hash."

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Love in the Time of Cholera.
RAMBLING COMMENTS: Well, it was okay. I was worried about two things. One, John Leguizamo. In this case, I was right to fret. He was horrible in that he went for caricature rather than attempting to lend some humanity to his character. Also, he couldn't settle on an accent. At one point he was speaking through clenched teeth and channeling a manic Tony Soprano. Annoying. I was also worried about Shakira's music, but it was actually quite beautiful and inobtrusive. Benjamin Bratt is, as the spousal unit pointed out, "aIways Benjamin Bratt." Which is not to say he wasn't successful; it's just to say he was...Benjamin Bratt. As for the the performances by Javier Bardem and Giovanna Mezzogiorno in the lead roles, I will proclaim customer satisfaction. I was so moved by the shuffling walk of Florentino Ariza, which Javier (that's what I call him. I call him "Javier," or sometimes "Javi" if he's being silly with me) affected when the character was still relatively young. At one point, Fermina Daza says about Florentino: "He is not a person. He's a shadow." And this is true. A shadow who gets laid every time he turns around, but a shadow nonetheless.

FORGOTTEN JEWEL FOUND ON MY BOOKSHELF: Critical Fictions: The Politics of Imaginative Writing, with essays or conference presentations by Jessica Hagedorn, Educardo Galeano, Nawal El Saadawi, Angela Carter, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jamaica Kincaid, Salman Rushdie, Ana Castillo and many others.
COMMENTS:This book was published in 1991, not long after the demonstrations condemning THE SATANIC VERSES, so you can kinda imagine the energy of the work included. Jessica Hagedorn's conference presentation begins (and maybe this is a much-anthologized piece?), "Now I will discuss Virgin Mary Power." I've had this book for fifteen years or so, and I read it before I could truly understand it, so I'm excited to re-visit.

And now I have to go make lemon bars. *tap dances away while raising and lowering black silk tophat*

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why DO Cupcakes Shrink?

I don't think search engine inventors realized how much amusement bloggers (well, THIS blogger, at least) would glean from referral stats. The following searches have led people to my blog in the last two days. I am like a beacon, shining in the world wide web of darkness, guiding the lost home:

"neurotic nesting behavior in bitches"

"why do my cupcakes shrink?"

"cow of renown"

"hot dog cutter"

"fine phillepenas ass"

That last one kills me. And there's something else that has kept me wondering for at least two years. Every once in awhile, loads and loads of people throughout Europe (or at least people whose SERVERS exist throughout Europe) will google the word "rafiki" at the same time. And they all end up here (only to be disappointed). This puzzles me greatly. In fact, it's a sudoku tucked into a word jumble and then wrapped in the Sunday NY Times crossword.

In other news:

It's November. How did this happen?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Thursday Gift to You

Today will be forever remembered as the day I discovered Artemis Bell.

If I've failed to embed the video correctly (it's not showing up when I preview my post), then click here. Um, immediately.

Oh, sure it's easy to laugh at Artemis Bell. But have you ever expressed your unfettered joy to the world in this way? Neither have I! She has ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FOUR of these videos, people. She dances to Yaz, Animotion, KC and the Sunshine Band, Santa Esmeralda (omg, how much do I love Santa Esmeralda?), Parliament and, well, a hundred others.

I am in awe of Artemis Bell.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pot Roast & The Good Filipino Girls

It's clearly time for cold-weather food: stews, roasts, soups, all that good stuff. The other night, for example, I made pot roast. Now, listen carefully because this is where the genius-ness comes in. I didn't have any beef stock, nor did I have any desire to throw the kids into the car and head to the market because, as you all know by now, any 15-minute errand instantly turns into (at least!) a 40-minute errand whenever children are added to the equation (the only exception I know of is filling up with gas, and that's because nobody gets out of the car except for me). And since the pot roast was going to take 3.5 hours to cook, I didn't have 40 minutes to squander.

Are you with me?

So instead of beef stock, I used 2 cups of water and a liberal sprinkling of Maggi (don't even LOOK at the sodium content; just don't do it). The result was astounding, truly. Stop laughing at me.

Okay, now despite the fact that my pot roast included big, soft, and velvety potato cubes, I still made rice. Why? Because I'm Filipino. Go ahead, turn to the closest Filipino and ask if I'm making this up. I am not.

I served the kids a nice scoop of rice with their pot roast, but soon noticed that they weren't eating it. "Why aren't you eating your rice?"

"We're eating potatoes."

"But I don't care if there are potatoes; Filipinos EAT RICE."


"No 'but, but!' What kind of Filipino girls are you? I've made rice for you since you were babies with the express intention of making sure that you'd eat it for the rest of your lives."

"Who made that rule?"

"What rule?"

"About Filipino girls and rice?"

"It's not a rule, it just IS."

At this point, I went outside to great the SU, who was arriving home late from a meeting. I was wearing a flowing green caftan, silver heels, liquid eyeliner, and my hair piled up on top of my head just like Elizabeth Taylor in...just kidding! When we came inside, the girls were seated nicely and grinning.

"Look! We ate our rice!"

Good Filipino girls.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Coming Soon

Javier Bardem as Florentino Ariza? Yes!

I will be one of those first-in-line dorks who arrives filled with hope and leaves—most likely—with popcorn stuck to her sweater and loudly bemoaning all the blasphemous ways the film deviated from the book. I would like to apologize in advance to the SU.

Love in the Time of Cholera, November 16th.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


For your viewing enjoyment, I humbly present a few choice pictures from yesterday. First of all, let's give it up for old school:

A nod to the Summer of Love:

Be still my heart! A different kind of superhero:

Be still my heart redux! My own "spider witch," cowgirl, and princess ("but not a Disney princess," she points out):

The SU carved a bunch of pumpkins, but this was my favorite. Look at that nose:

And I just found this! It's from last year (Lea, on the left, is soooo tiny), which was our family's final one at preschool. For four years, I had staunchly refused to stick my finger in the infamous decomposing pumpkin. Determined to overcome my ewwwww-i-ness, I finally took the plunge. One of the teachers documented the momentous event:

You know what? It was FREEZING in the decomposing pumpkin.

In closing, I would like to beg someone to please get this bag of leftover Kit-Kat bars away from me...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shake Up Call

I was putting Lea to sleep when the earthquake started at 8:00 or so tonight. I was supra-relaxed at first, but when it seemed to be going on too long, I made the mistake of inhaling sharply, which is when she realized something was wrong. The shaking stopped soon after that, and while half of me went to work trying to calm down my shivering, slightly weepy child, the other half was coming to the realization that if it HAD continued I would not have known what the hell to do.

What kind of native Californian am I?

The kind that has some Googling to do, that's what kind...

Monday, October 29, 2007

A List of Things Lacking in Fun

1) Taking 3 children to the dentist at the same time.

2) When your jeans start to feel a little tight in the thighs.

3) Completing the often arduous task of removing the nut from the shell of the pumpkin seed and then having Lea say, "Can I have that, Mama?"

4) When your aunt's appendix bursts.

5) Having no chocolate chips in the house and, therefore, being unable to make chocolate chip cookies. This, however, may be helpful in other areas (see #2).

6) Rounding up volunteers to help with the Kindergarten Halloween games. WORK WITH ME, PEOPLE.

But you know what makes up for these mini (well, okay, except for the appendix thing) bummers? This scene from an otherwise bleh romantic comedy. You might laugh at the beginning, you might laugh at the end, but you WILL laugh:

Come come on the kickdrum. Come, come.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

October Overload

I've been eating too much fancy foodstuffs lately. And no, smarty, I am not referring to fried zucchini at the Big Fresno Fair. It's a big birthday week in the family, you see, so the celebration started last Saturday at a restaurant here in San Mateo called La Lanterna, where I believe a single, tiny gnocchi boasts enough caloric value to power an adult through an Iron Man event. It goes without saying that they serve you more than one. And then last night, I met the SU for a private feast at Sutro's (inside the Cliff House):

My drive to the restaurant took me on quite the nostalgic romp along Skyline Boulevard. On my left, the sunset was ridiculously dramatic. Off to my right I passed...

1) ...Higate Avenue in Daly City, where several teenage-era friends once lived
2) ...Westmoor, my high school
3) ...John Daly Boulevard, across which my buddy Paul and I were safely ferried by the ancient crossing guard (also named Paul) as we walked to Olympia Elementary School each day
4) ...the now rather sad Lake Merced, which was the site of several childhood family reunions

But back to all the fancy food. I feel that if I were to stick a pin in some meaty part of myself (ah, so many places to choose from at the moment...), cream and truffle oil would trickle out.

Wow. Gross visual.

Anyways, I've begun an intense form of culinary penance, and I have but one thing to report: eating a banana is in no way thrilling.


{Happy birthday, Kuya! We miss you}

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Alfred Peet?

Just when you think your children can't get any more odd, they do this: they go to the craft store with the spousal unit to purchase styrofoam, spray paint, black paint, and wooden dowels. With their suddenly crafty dad at the helm, they proceed to create tombstones using the purchased items.

Not that odd so far.

When it comes time to choose names for the headstones, CSU (Crafty Spousal Unit) says they may have their way. Here's what they decide:

Gregory Hines

Alfred Peet


Rin Tin Tin

Simon Cowell

I'd take a picture, but I can't find the camera. Maybe tomorrow, you lucky ducks.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

This Just In: Animal Identification Not My Forte

My sister-in-law was kind enough to inform me that the Goat of Some Renown (see below) is actually a SHEEP.

But the other picture IS a cow.

I think.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Goat of Some Renown, Hair of Cow, and Fried Things

First of all, hello, what a fantastic outfit on Miss 4-H:

And I believe the goat is a Goat of Some Renown. If I am mistaken and this goat is not, in fact, a Goat of Some Renown, then it ought to be. Super shiny coat! Velvet to the touch! Willing to pose for pictures! Freakin' awesome goat.

Allow me to present another standout pair from the Big Barn:

Do you see that? Do you see how they have identical matching hair peaks (click it! click the picture!)? Do you think that's easy to achieve? Does it seem like I'm yelling at you? I am! Because this can't be easy. If someone said to me, "Nesting Ground Mistress, make your hair look like this cow's hair," I would be at a loss. But not this fellow. This fellow is follicle-y gifted.

Let's move on to food, shall we? Below is a lot of meat:

And, well, that's it. A lot of meat.

My niece, Sarah (pictured below with me, your Nesting Ground Mistress) says that this is not only a snapshot of the two of us holding ungodly-looking pieces of fried foodstuffs... is also accurately depicts the number of pounds one can gain by eating at the Big Fresno Fair. You'll be happy to know that I didn't actually partake in any of the items we're foisting. I did, however, eat these fried zucchini ribbons, and you know what?

I'd do it again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

They Draw Now, Ask Questions Later

I don't know why the thought of Filipino doodlers fills me with such glee, but it does.

In other drawn-to-drawing news, a question: if you were the mother of three young daughters, and you saw this edition of The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, illustrated by Lauren Child of "Charlie and Lola" fame, could you prevent yourself from purchasing it?

Yeah. I didn't think so.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

No News Is Good News

Not much going on here at Nesting Ground. Just the gentle hum of the dishwasher, the light pelting of raindrops. I'm working on two grants and one story, with the hope that all three things will go out in the mail next week. Magic happens, after all.

The rain is growing louder, more insistent. This can mean only one thing: time to climb under the covers with a book. Question is...Little, Big or The Book Thief?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Sorry? I'll Show You Sorry

By way of an introduction, I would like to say that I am no wimp when it comes to the dentist. I have endured horrifying dental and periodontal procedures during my lifetime and have barely uttered a sound beyond a muffled, "I hate you." With that said...

I have a new dental hygienist. Our relationship is off to a difficult start mostly because I almost jumped out of the chair and throttled her for causing me such deep discomfort. It would have been one thing if she'd said, "You know, this is going to really, really hurt, so...just deal with it." Instead, she was overly apologetic and affected a pixie-like voice. "Oh, I'm sorry!," she squeaked again and again. "I'm so sorry!" This was a little bit like slapping me repeatedly while smiling.


I bet she doesn't have any friends.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Roles & Rejuvenation & One Question

And just like that: rejuvenated.

I was 100% stress-free on my way to writer's group on Tuesday night. J's home in the city is in my old neighborhood, avenues and streets laid out in a perfect grid, with names I can recite in my half-sleep. After miraculously finding a parking space, I tromped up and down X avenue looking for "836." It didn't exist. The numbers went directly from 834 to 838. Wha?! I checked. And re-checked. And then I finally cracked open my moleskine to triple-check the address. Woops. Wrong avenue. I zipped two blocks east, the parking god smiled once more, and a few minutes later I finally sunk deep into J's ultrasuede sage-colored couch. Someone handed me some ice water, and we were off.

My work was up first, and I can't even express how grateful I am to the four others in my group for just letting me sit with them as a writer. It's a gift, really, to have people in my life who don't think of me first as someone's mother or a fundraiser or a volunteer. I say this not to diminish those roles (I am very proud of them, after all), but just also to acknowledge that I'm...I don't know. That I'm other things, too, I guess.

For example, right now I have to be The Person Who Makes Dinner.

And—per the ridiculous title of this post—here's my one question: Who even WATCHES this stupid-ass show?

Monday, October 01, 2007

At Your Service

Blogwise, I'm in some sort of reclusive, hibernating-like place. Basically, I bore even myself. Not a good sign.


At this very moment, there are five girls running in and around the house. It's impossible to keep an eye on all of them, so I've opened every door and window and am depending on my ears and instincts. Sometimes when there is a tone of voice or a noise that concerns me, I track it down to its source only to find out that it's "just a story."

I cut up those tiny Dulcinea watermelons and put the slices on strategically placed plates, knowing that in ten minutes or so, the dishes can be rounded up and rinsed off and re-stocked with graham crackers or apple slices. When someone runs by the desk here, I say, "Hey, what's going on?" The answer is always, "Nothing! We're fine!"

When I hear bikes and scooters and little yelps, I check to make sure everyone's wearing a helmet.

When someone leaves the bathroom, and I don't hear the toilet flush, I go flush it.

When shoes are abandoned in the hallways, I bring them to the front door.

When I hear Lea cry, I grab some Band-Aids before running outside.

I eat a cookie. As payment, you know. For services rendered.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Staying Put

Why do I feel like I've written a post like this (well, except for the ear part) a dozen times already? Don't answer that.

The other day at the library, my laptop was sitting squarely in front of me and, as usual, I had nothing going on. This is—sadly—my modus operandi. Most times I'll stand up and start wandering around the stacks. I make faces at little kids. I watch people and try to figure out what they're listening to on their iPods. I toy with the idea of walking up one floor to grab a snack in the cafe. I walk over to the computer catalog to see if random books are available.

But the other day I decided I would not leave my seat. Not only would I not leave my seat, I would not leave the piece I was writing. No checking e-mail, no reading gossip blogs, no reading YOUR blogs (honestly, you people FASCINATE me). I sat. I sat and sat and squirmed and squirmed and played with my hair and became tremendously thirsty. You know the top part of your ear? The part that curls under? I uncurled mine, which is both painful and strangely energizing. I did all this for a long time, occasionally writing a word and then deleting it immediately. And then when I had only fifteen minutes left before I had to pick up the kids, I started typing. When I was finished, I had the same number of words, more or less, but they were better. Better words, better piece, but very red ear.

In other writing news, Cecilia B. just e-mailed to say she will be publishing my story, "My Father's Tattoo," in GROWING UP FILIPINO II. She also wanted me to let folks know that she is still open to submissions. If you've already sent something, send something else! Once again, here's the call.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Just Wanted Breakfast, Thanks

As I was enjoying a nice little breakfast at Copenhagen Bakery yesterday, it appears that one of God's Army was hard at work in the parking lot. S/he left a booklet on my windshield which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be a comic book.

The book begins sweetly by noting all the things that we humans have in common, such as eating, sleeping, sickness, aging, and the same parents. By the latter, the author is referring not to primates, which is made very clear by a panel containing two embracing monkeys and the words, "We all came from the same parents. NOT THESE," but to Adam and Eve, which is made very clear by a panel containing a hand-holding couple who bear a striking resemblance to Fred and Wilma Flinstone.

Ohmalord. Hilarious.

Okay, then it goes on to say that even though we have many things in common, the idea only goes so far. Why? Because, in fact, "Some people are going to heaven, and MANY people are going to HELL."


The next page brings it home with this visual:

And, I don't know. I just felt so loved, so accepted.

Friday, September 21, 2007


I don't usually do this, but after four years of serving as a Chair (with three other women of whom I cannot speak highly enough) on the annual September fundraiser for our little school, I feel 100% compelled to announce that...

...we broke the $100,000 mark!

At last, at last.

That's a whole bunch of doubloons, smackers, ducats, benjamins, paper, coin. But guess what? It's still not enough! We have $55,000 more to raise this year, so while I really feel like taking a nap, I will instead be searching for leprechauns to lead me to various pots of gold. Maybe Google Maps can help with this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Circa 1990 + Book Purchases

Just remembering that my cubicle buddy at Ranana Sepublic used to have a problem with her contact lenses: they would constantly dry out, causing discomfort and strain. So she'd pop them out one at a time, stick them in her mouth, and then put them back in her eyes.



I'm not a believer in the Bible as fact, but I love it as fiction. And so I couldn't resist Chronicle Books' The Bible: Genesis, Exodus, The Song of Solomon with illustrations by Marc Chagall. It's so small—only as big as my hand—and deliciously fat. Here's a page:

I think it's very beautiful. It's sitting on my desk at the moment, making me happy.

I also picked up The Book Thief by Markus Zusak which, I'm pleased to report (see my previous post), has a super-short prologue. It goes like this:


a mountain range of rubble

in which our narrator introduces:
himself—the colors—and the book thief

It's cold today, cold enough for a fire. So maybe there will be one in the fireplace tonight, and I can start this book. But for now, errands at Target and then writing at the library. Yes.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Life is currently an unwieldy mix of maternal duties (if my children do not stop talking to me all at the same time, there is no telling what your Nesting Ground Mistress may do), writing, volunteering and, um, home management. I'm failing desperately (per usual) at the home managment portion, mostly because Risa, Vida, and Lea have already brought home an entire ream of paper between the three of them. How many "Mad Math Minute" papers must I keep? Do I need to retain documentation of Lea's transformation from a small person who writes her "s" backwards to a small person who no longer writes her "s" backwards? Will Vida one day ask why I didn't file her Reading Logs and keep them forever and ever? What, exactly, is the protocol?

And while we're on the topic of protocol, is there a rule regarding the proper length of prologues? I'm wondering, for example, if this is long enough:

They say Maria Angelica Nazario de los Santos was the most beautiful woman of her time; that one of her eyes was blue, one green; that requests for her hand numbered in the hundreds; that one bitter rival poisoned a cup of Spanish chocolate, had it served to her for merienda, and then went mad when the desired effect failed to materialize.

They say all that and much, much more.

I hope so. Because it's way too loud in here for me to give it another go.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Soccer, Saturday, 8:00 am

I was disgruntled.

I was sleepy.

I was in sweats.

But all this changed (well, not the sweatpants part) when Risa stole the ball at mid-field and took the...GOAL.

I've never screamed so loud in my life and am now quite hoarse.

This does not bode well for the proselytizing I will be engaged in at tonight's event, but 'tis a small price to pay for witnessing Risa's breakthrough. How do they say it on tv?—"A-goal-a-goal-a-goal-a-goal-a-goooooooooal!"

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Post That Happens When You're Supposed to Be Doing Something Else

We're in full-on "Frantic Mode" with our school fundraiser thing, but all work and no blogging makes Ver a testy creature. Anyways, I have all night! The spousal unit is on a business trip, after all, and since I don't know how to turn on the television, I'll be doing nothing but sitting here churning out fundraiser...stuff. In all seriousness, I have no idea how to use this thing:

It might as well be the launchpad control for the latest NASA rocket, for all the good it does me.

***pause for topic switch***

In a cursory glance around my favorite blogs, I am happy to learn that people are havin' babies, people are finishing novels, people are being Honorably Mentioned, people are visiting faraway lands where the quality of light is different, people are making their acting debuts. It's good to be surrounded—virtually speaking—by such people. Non-virtual life can be so harsh. In non-virtual life I heard a 4-year-old soccer player being unfairly scolded by her father. She was understandably tired after half an hour of play, and ran to the sidelines begging to come out. "So, what?" said her father, "You're gonna quit? You're a quitter? Okay, that's fine. You go over to your team right now, and you tell them 'I quit.' You heard me, go!" I had to turn away because it was horrible to see her little crumpled up face.

Here is Lea on the field, not quite sure which direction she's supposed to go:

She figured it out. Good thing, since I didn't want to have to say, "What? What is this? Are you directionally challenged? You don't know which way to go? Well, why don't you just tell your team that. Tell them, 'I don't know which way to go,'" or anything like that. GEEZ. Big folks need to take it easy on the wee ones, for chrissakes.

***pause for topic switch***

Remember I was waiting for back-to-school meltdowns? Well, I'm happy to report I have two out of three under my belt, and I'm starting to think the third won't happen at all. Of course, now that I've said that, I'm probably going to be subjected to some sort of Exorcist-type scenario. Great. I'll leave you with a back-to-school shot:

And now, back to my regularly scheduled fundraising...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Obvious Karmic Punishment, Plus A Letter

The men working on a construction project next door blast nonstop vintage AC/DC, Aerosmith, Van Halen, etc. etc. from 9 am to 5 pm, and they are freaking running me out of my house. With every consecutive song I'm losing brain cells. It's clear I've done something to upset the Universe; the question is what? Dear God, WHAT. Well, since I'm on someone's shite list anyways, I may as well do this...

Dear Two Turntables,

I'm glad you pulled your daughter out of school after two days and without ever meeting her teacher or observing her class (something, you may recall, you were invited and encouraged to do). Since you clearly have a surplus of downtime, may I offer the following thinking points for when you are next on the treadmill or prepping for future physical enhancements to your face and breasts? Remember, these are only suggestions:

1) There was a time, was there not, when your own family did not speak English? Why, then, turn in disgust from those who are learning now?

2) Why purchase a flat iron for your daughter's lovely, naturally curled hair?

3) Why is your surname truncated to erase all traces of ethnicity?

4) What is the meaning of "self-hatred"?

5) What are the consequences of self-hatred?

6) And, finally, take a little bit of extra time to think on this because I'm sure it's eating at you: why, despite your outer trappings, are the Mexican/Filipina/African-American/Peruvian/Guatemalan mothers at our school so much more—there's no other way to put this—beautiful than you?

Oh, Two Turntables. Forgive me for being so blunt, but if I didn't say this here I might find myself unable to keep from blurting it out at the birthday party we will no doubt both be attending tomorrow. And that just wouldn't do.


Your Nesting Ground Mistress

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Fine Art of Juggling or Scattered Writer Brain

Hmmmm. I have an interesting and, unfortunately, not very compatible list of writing thingies going on:

1) Major rewrite of a large project that I'm collaborating on with a group of five—count 'em FIVE!—other Filipinas. This has been in turns a fun, plodding, fascinating, frustrating, but ultimately valuable experience for me as a writer. As our publisher notes, the project is not what it should be yet, and so we are tackling an overhaul. An overhaul that I'm already enjoying, by the way. I changed the POV I was using, and things are quickly coming together.

2) Achiote Seeds! Over the weekend, I found myself making lists of words I'd like to use for these short pieces. This is something new for me, and I confess I've never taken words on such a careful test drive before. "Isthmus?" Maybe. "Almonds?" That works. "Aubergine?" Nah. "Placid?" Double nah. "Bound?" Ooooh, bound.

3) Various writing tasks related to our upcoming fancy schmancy school auction. This is my fourth year, so I have most of my text put together, but I also do layout for this particular thing, so I have plenty of squinting at the screen to look forward to, plenty of obsessing over fonts and placement and la di da. Plus multiple trips to the printer who, though a perfectly nice man, seems to have signed some pact with the devil to NEVER EVER SMILE. At this point, it's become a challenge of bizarre proportions. For my next attempt, I will perform my unique take on the cabbage patch or roger rabbit or...let's see...lawn sprinkler. That should do the trick. Or, at the very least, maybe he'll give us a discount.

4) Grant writing. Okay, it's been awhile since I scored a grant for Latino outreach at the school, and I. Need. A. Victory. Projects include a continuation of the speaker series, a family literacy project, and a full-time liason. It's maybe a bad sign when just typing those three things wears me out. I will re-commit fully mid-month when the auction is over and we're done counting our many ducats.

5) This one is sorta hilarious. I've been asked to teach "Living the Life of a Writer," which is a program with a set curriculum from The Noyce Foundation. And, um, I'm teaching it to Lea's KINDERGARTEN CLASS. Oh, lordy. It cracks me up. I'm not sure exactly what I'm in for, but a 2-inch-thick curriculum binder awaits me.

That's all from Nesting Ground HQ, my dear ones. I'm now off to tackle items 1 and 3...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Calm Before the Storm or Ver's Tale of Terrible Women

I'm in an odd limbo state at the moment, calmly awaiting what I am sure will be the mother of all back-to-school meltdowns from one, some, or all of my kids. For now, all is well and, in fact, I have never witnessed such eager-beaver-ness from my brood. But as sure as I'm blogging here, drama will unfold. And until it does, and I successfully set things right, I just don't have the room in my head to re-start all of the things that I seem to have put on hold since June. Writing things, mostly, I think. Although it should be noted (by me, not by you, dear ones), that I did, somehow, finish a story this summer.

Speaking of meltdowns, I've had quite a few in the last two days. Little spasms of horror, tiny moments of wanting to do violence. Mothers who are new to the school and for whom our school is pointedly NOT their first, second, or even third choice, have uttered some of the most bigoted and willfully ignorant things I have ever had the displeasure of hearing in conversation. At one point, I was sandwiched between two of these horrible beings, attempting—much to my permanent shame—to make them feel better. I'm flailing; I don't know how to deal with such women. Women who say their daughters have no one with whom they can "identify" in their class. Who wonder out loud why all the kids who can't yet speak English are not kept in one classroom. Who refuse to believe there is even the SLIGHTEST possibility that a child of color and lower socioeconomic background might be as brilliant and capable as their own. Who refuse to acknowledge the existence of mothers who are not carrying the right bag or who have not been botoxed to within an inch of their sad, sorry lives.

It's not that I can't think of a hundred smart-ass, cutting retorts; I can. But that's the easy way out, and for some reason I'm willing to work at this (maybe I should do like AD and invoke the patron saint of lost causes). Earlier today, I was wondering why, exactly, these women believe their children are better than the other children. And then I realized maybe they're afraid they AREN'T. Fear being the root of all evil and whatnot...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back to Forms. I Mean "School." Back to School.

I can think of only one reason why it's no fun to have 3 children who are close in age: having to fill out stacks and stacks of school forms in triplicate. Surely there's a better way. Surely someone has heard of a little thing called A COMPUTER. Surely we could do this online.

Still, I have to admit there's a certain ritualistic satisfaction in breaking out the ol' stylus and going to town on all the little boxes and lines and whatnot. I'm paralyzed not only by my obsession with perfect penmanship while completing forms, but by the number of decisions I must make, the most pressing being whether I should mark my answers with a checkmark, an "x," or perhaps a minimalist (albeit somewhat aggressive) slanted slash. Such minutiae can bog me down, especially when it's already 10:10, and I have yet to fill out the first form, fold the laundry, make the waffle batter, or pack the lunches for tomorrow.

Knowing that I will be up past midnight does nothing to spur me on. If anything, I become even more maternally nonchalant. Eh, I say, what's the difference, really, between midnight and one in the morning? Well, I'll tell you. The difference between midnight and one in the morning is that the latter results in the the next day's absolute need to wear sunglasses. Indoors.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Letter to the Six—Count 'Em SIX—People Who I Witnessed Picking Their Noses While Driving Their Cars on Saturday

Dear Six People,


Stop it.

Stop it.

You are in your car driving on a public thoroughfare and/or freeway; you are not INVISIBLE.


Your Nesting Ground Mistress

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Now Channeling...Joni Mitchell

I've looked at life from both sides now, from win and lose and still somehow...


I'm in a funk. Said funk can be attributed to any number of mundane or not-so-mundane things. Lea has lost her first two teeth, for example, a happening which spun her briefly into an existential crisis. For me, it's another indicator that I have no more babies. And dammit, I didn't know I liked 'em so much until now.

Also, I was thinking that I can't write. That my writing, I mean, is whoa-nelly-bad. This feeling eased up when I sent some stories to Cecilia for consideration in her anthology. Whether or not she decides they fit with the project, I realized that my writing is not whoa-nelly-bad. It's kind of whoa-nelly-that's-not-too-terribly-bad. But, still. The whole episode has left residual funk in my funk drawer.

And then there's the fact that all the little squares on my calendar are filling up with distinctly non-thrilling (non)events, resulting in an acute case of claustrophobia.

Date night, where art thou? What with the last two weekends at the lake and the next two claimed by the aforementioned calendar squares, we'll be well into September before I can discover the fate of one Jason Bourne. I see now that the benefits of a lobster roll (no, seriously, this Old Port Lobster Shack joint in Redwood City of all places, serves a c-r-a-z-y lobster roll) and a movie with the spousal unit on a Friday night is kinda like...magic.

Wave if you see me. I'll be the woman sitting on the curb, reading a book, and waiting for my Big Yellow Taxi.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Still Time to Grow Up

The deadline for GROWING UP FILIPINO II has been extended to the end of this month. Please click here for the original call.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Best of, Lake Edition

Best sign visible from the road on the way to the lake: "Poot's House of Cactus"

Best Speedos (and headgear) in show:

Best Reading Material: Charlotte Bronte's JANE EYRE, illustrated by Dame Darcy:

Best ice cream treat that is NOT a Choco Taco: "Chips Galore," which is a bastard cousin of the remarkable It's It. Lea's vote goes to the classic soft serve twirl. Here we are partaking in our individual favorites:

Best fried item at snack bar that is NOT onion rings: shrimp

Best sighting of a lake animal: an albino deer *SCREAM*

Best lake song performed on sister-in-law's deck: this is a tough one, but I think it was nephew Charlie singing "My Angel" with Mike G. on drums. Click here (track 2) for a listen.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Me & My iSight, Plus a Writing Prompt

I should be writing, but instead I am:

1) Waiting for my brother to sign on to iChat. Helllllo?!! He moved to Madison Freaking Wisconsin yesterday, which I have to pretend to be okay with, but which I am so NOT, which is why I am waiting for him to sign onto iChat. Helllllooo?!

2) Making faces at myself on my iSight camera.

3) Eating Monster Trail Mix and noticing how absurd I look while chewing. Thank you iSight!

4) Looking at the background in my iSight and realizing I have not yet done the dishes. Thank you again!

5) Also? I have manga hair right now. Does this always happen to my hair at 10 pm? And is there a technical term for manga hair?

Okay, I give up on the iChat thing. What time is it in Madison Freaking Wisconsin, anyways? I will go now and work on the writing prompt that Cecilia sent out. The prompt was:

Outside the Parroquia de San Miguel Arc Angel...

And so far I have written:

Outside the Parroquia de San Miguel Arc Angel, she sat on pigeon shit.

I don't know about you, but I think this is a promising beginning. Not for my character, of course, but for me.

Bonus visual:

Manga Hair & Dirty Dishes!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Good News, Bad News

I'm playing Scrabble with Risa and Vida.

It's excruciating.

That's right: E-X-C-R-U-C-I-A-T-I-N-G.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Just & Here

Just Junot Diaz reading his now-classic, "How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)," here.

Just the fact that an entry on men's shorts at The Sartorialist garnered 198 comments here.

Just enjoyed...the post "Filial Piety" at Chasing the Red Balloon here.

Just jaw at what I believe is perhaps A.D.'s longest post in recent history here, a post which was inspired by Jean's intriguing post here.

Just finished...reading Coraline (here) which is technically a short novel for children, but which is so freaking creepy I cannot imagine reading it to my kids for another 5 years.

Just coveting...this little print here for my new reading corner. A true steal at $13!

Just Vida (here), who is at this very moment explaining the concept of word families to Lea: "All these words like 'sat,' 'mat,' 'hat,' 'cat,' are called 'word families' because they all end with 'at' and they also all rhyme. Do you see that?"

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Excerpt(s) from the Family Forum

I must share these gems from a recent thread on our family forum. They feature my cousin Luj (perhaps you will remember him as the one who wrote a song for me entitled, "You're Forty and I'm Not"); my father who is, as has been noted several times here on Nesting Ground, a free-roaming lunatic; and two quips from one uncle and one of my brothers. The title of the thread is simply...


Luj: So I just got back from Oxnard—spent a few days of vacation there—and my Mom made me Daing (dried fish) a couple of mornings for breakfast. I love it. I truly love it. It's super gnarly, but I love it. Anyway, she sent me home with several frozen bags of it.

So I got home last night, woke up this morning, and decided to pull out some of my camping gear so I can cook it in the far corner of my backyard where no one can witness the aroma.

Well, less than an hour ago, there I was cooking away and I swear, a swarm of flies and yellowjackets like I've never seen started hovering around me. Also, I went back into my house and although I'm cooking it about 30 yards from my back door, I can smell it from the front of the house when I went to check my mail! I finished cooking it and brought it in, but now my house smells like it!

I have unleashed something I don't know that I can properly do battle with! Anyway, I guess I better eat it now (my rice is ready).

I actually went on the internet looking for any information on Daing and I found something that started with an amusing story...check it out...

Being filipino is not easy.

* * *

Luj: Just a follow up post...

I finished my meal and realize I did a couple of DUMB things

1. I ate while at my computer. Now my keyboard and mouse smell like fish. I also had an instance when I kind of broke off a piece of the fish and it sort of went all over the place. Now there are hidden pieces of daing hiding somewhere. This is going to be a challenge to fix. I may have to buy a new keyboard and mouse.

2. I probably should've worn something I wasn't interested wearing for the rest of the day. I also probably should've waited to shower. I have to shower and change now.

3. I washed the daing pan with other dishes. Now the other dishes smell like fish. Shoot. Mind you, I used a pan I normally only use for camping, so that's going back out in the garage with my camping gear. However, there were a couple of plates and tupperware that I washed with the tainted pan, and now they reek. I don't know what to do. My Mom told me yesterday that when I cooked this stuff, I should probably clean it all with lemon. That is probably what I'm going to have to do.

4. Just an observation, but my paper cup full of Peet's coffee smells like Daing. Ah screw it, my whole world smell like Daing right now. My usually unfriendly cat has all of a sudden taken a liking to me. Sigh.

Thursday, July 26, 2007. Day of the Daing. The Invasion Has Begun.

* * *

[In the following, please note Dad's "logic" in paragraph 2]

My Dad: You have tasted the food of the Pilipino Gods! Your Mom served that at your B'day party and it was the single convincing reason that I drove that far! She promised Tina would catch the fish and that she would BBQ it. The dried and smoked kind elevates the stuff to incredible levels.

I eat mine with finely chopped/diced tomatoes, onions, cucumber, and cilantro seasoned lightly with patis (salt is bad for my blood pressure). I do three super large eggs over easy, two cups of rice, and I am in heaven!

There are many other fishes available at Ranch 99 or Seafood City. Some are from China and some from Vietnam or Thailand. I try them all and found my favorite to be Shisamo.

Shisamo is from Japan and some sushi bars serve it. It is a tiny fish (about 4 inches) served charcoal grilled and each tiny fish is filled with roe! That's right! Fish eggs. Pudjo and I once ate $50 worth at a sushi bar! Buying it at Ranch 99 is cheaper. $1.99 for 5 pcs in a package but buy a minimum of 2 packages or you'll be sorry.

Charcoal or gas grilling is the only way to cook this stuff. It seems the smoke covers the aroma and carries it away. I will grill about a dozen pieces at a time, wrap it in tin foil and store in the fridge. I then heat up what I want in the toaster oven (wrapped in tin foil- on LOW) and I end up with minimal aroma. Frying definitely produces the most aroma and sometimes I do that just to drive Soosi crazy (last time she called a cab and went to a movie)!.

Good eating!

* * *

Luj: I think that's going to be my morning project for tomorrow. I have to clean out my garage, so while I'm doing that, I can bbq the daing. I have a bunch of it, so I might as well. I also have lots of tomatoes, so I can make that as well. Uncle Norman, I hope you're right about the smell being lessened when you bbq! I wanted to ask my parents about it in more detail, but they friggin' went to Vegas.

* * *

CookieDuster: I thought I smelled fish the other day!

* * *

My Dad: Y'know those seasoning packets that make instant adobo, sinigang, etc.? You know, the ones you dissolve in a cup of water and add your fish and stuff and "Voila!" sinigang!

I was thinking (uh, oh) what if I made gravy instead of soup? Like use a lot less water, maybe some wine, some corn starch to thicken it and butter to make it richer and then use it as a gravy? Would that work you think? Have you tried it?

Oh heck, I'll just go ahead and try it! Hey Soosi, I need a saucepan! Speaking of what works, did that bbq thing work for your dried fish, Luj?

* * *

My Brother: Dad...butter in the sinigang mix? Danger Will Robinson, Danger.

* * *

Believe it or not, this thread goes on. In fact, it will probably go on for several more days. All of which makes me really is time for a family reunion.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ready or Not

When she is overwhelmed with emotion, she says this. "Oh, Mama!" she says. Please help me!"

But there is no Dora the Explorer band-aid for the pain she feels about preschool coming to its inevitable end. "How many more days? Tell me, tell me."


It's 8:30, and the light is fading, but I can still see her. She shuts her eyes tight and wails. Tears squeeze out and over her cheeks. "No! No! Oh, but I will miss my teachers. Are you sure? Are you sure it's not eight more days? Because two isn't very many. It's like, 'one, two,' and that's it," she says. She is shaking. "Can you talk to them?"

"To your teachers?"


"What do you want me to say?"

"Ask them for one hundred more days. I need one hundred more. I'm too small for Kindergarten."

"Okay, you can tell them that. Tell them tomorrow on the train trip."


"Why not?"

"I'm too embarrassed." More shaking, more crying. Her bangs are soaked with tears. "Oh! Oh! Oh!" she yells.

"Shhhh. It's okay, I know it's hard."

"Don't 'shhhhhh' me, Mama. Oh, please help me."

But I am no help at all. If there's one thing I've finally come to understand in this year of turning forty, it's this: I can put both hands up on the hour hand and push until I'm out of breath, but I can't stop time.

Preschool graduation

House Resolution 121 Passes!

Check it out at Evelina's Laban! Fight for Comfort Women.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Belated Day In the Life: Saturday

3:30 am: Lea wakes up and calls for me. I stumble across the hall, say "hi baby," fall into her bed and go back to sleep.

7:19 am: Lea wakes up and joins the spousal unit and her sisters somewhere on the other side of the door. I fall back asleep.

8:52 am: I wake up. As is his custom (and dear God, bless the man), the spousal unit has taken everyone to breakfast and the house is peaceful. I take advantage and jump in the shower.

9:07 am: I opt for wavy hair.

9:30 am: Family returns. Tales of hash browns, eggs, bacon, etc.

10:00 am: I take Lea to her Kindergarten playdate. Four girls, two boys, and their assorted parents are present. Most are newbies, so I am regaled with questions. This is mildly strenuous, since two of the families are on waiting lists at private schools and are terrified at the prospect of ending up at our school. "But do they do art?" one of the Dads asked me, concern etched all over his face.

*biting of tongue*

I say, "Oh, yes," and explain the everyday art as well as Art in Action.

10:15 am: Am taking mild pride in Lea, as she is mixing and mingling quite well. Her sisters normally pave the way for her in social situations, so it is nice to see her hold her own instead of shrinking behind my legs.

11:30 am: Lea and I head home to pick up the big girls.

11:45 am: Off to the farmer's market. Purchased:

5 White Lady peaches
1 Quart blueberries
1 Small carton raspberries
2 Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion handpies
2 Yukon Gold Potato and Corn handpies
3 Pounds heirloom tomatoes
1 Vegetable tamale
1 Chicken tamale
1 Medium bag kettle corn

Total = $58

12:30 pm: Lunch!

1:15 pm: Spousal unit takes the girls to the driving range. They bring four dolls and the bag of kettle corn.

1:15 - 1:47 pm: A cursory glance through Vogue, stopping only to read the Winona Ryder article and the excerpt from Alek Wek's upcoming autobiography. Why? I do not know.

2:00 pm: Make blueberry crumb cake for my brother's 2nd despedida at right hand gal's house later this afternoon.

2:45- 3:00 pm: Blogging while baking.

3:02 pm: Cake is done! After cooling, I cut it up, put it on the cake plate, and dust with powdered sugar:

3:15 - 4:00 pm: Everyone gets cleaned up and made presentable. There is the brushing of teeth, the braiding of hair, the placement of hair bands, the tightening of ponytails. I somehow forget to include myself in this ritual and so leave the house looking rather wild and unkempt.

4:17 pm: Walk to right hand gal's house in single file with my children, cake plate held aloft. Upon arrival, we see that everyone is in the swimming pool. The girls stare at me accusingly. I call the spousal unit, who is ten minutes behind, to bring over swimsuits. I hightail it into the bathroom to tame my hair and tend to my eyes. FAILURE. Oh, well.

4:20 - 8:50 pm: A blur of lifeguard duty, conversations on the fly, delicious food, the re-living of quite hilarious pre-child moments with people I have known forever, and kids who disappear for an hour to play without incident which—quite mercifully—allows the grown-ups to avail of delightful cuss words to our heart's content.

9:00 - 9:10 pm: Get the kids into bed.

9:30 - 11:00 pm: Fun with surround sound! A man, you see, has been in my house for the past two days wiring and drilling and wiring and drilling and now? Now when I'm sitting in the den watching a movie, the sound thunders through the back of my head and, it seems, out through my eyeballs. Um, neat! But the spousal unit is enthralled, and who am I to deny him?

11:00 - 12:15 pm: Reading and, at last, sleep.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Nickels, Dimes, Bubbles

I took the girls to the big new playground at Coyote Point the other day, but forgot to stop at the ATM (I never carry cash; does anyone carry cash?) and so found myself in the humiliating position of emptying out my coin-filled ashtray for the requisite $3 or whatever it costs to enter the park. The park ranger woman felt so sorry for me. She kept saying, "That's okay, that's fine, that's enough," as I handed her nickel after nickel, dime after dime. "There!" I screamed in triumph when I'd finally found enough for the entrance fee. She didn't even rejoice with me, that park ranger woman. If ever I become a park ranger woman, I will work diligently to be hilarious when forced to work the entrance booth. Also if I ever become a cotton candy vendor, ear piercer, purveyor of donuts, or barista. Just so you know.

Of note at the park was an overly enthusiastic mother who insisted on following her children around and blowing bubbles at them. Bubbles while they swung, bubbles while they rocked and jumped and climbed. Bubbles, even, when they cried. I watched her with a combination of fascination, annoyance, and disbelief. She was incredibly persistent. What is the impulse, I wondered, to keep them surrounded by bubbles? This thought led directly to the image of bubble wrap and then, quite logically, to the idea that everyone has a natural desire to protect fragile things. Annoyance getting the best of me (this is a shock, is it not, that I would let annoyance win out over empathy or understanding; I'm really so horrible sometimes), I almost yelled out, "Um, that's not going to work, really, this thing you're doing." But she was far away by then, parked at the bottom of one of the slides with the bubble wand poised in front of her lips, ready to ensure a safe landing.

Also of note that day: some sentences scribbled in my moleskine, which I think were a direct response to earlier that morning when the girls asked me if I could write a story for them. Here's what I wrote:
Shhhhhh. The three sisters are singing. Press your ear to the door if you must.

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking 'why are they singing all alone in Roonie's bedroom at the top of the house on Moonview Road?' Because, truly, they should be singing in a gazebo in Central Park surrounded by an audience who sighs with pleasure at the rise and fall of their voices.
Sometimes the sentences scribbled in my moleskine are very horrible, but I kind of like these. So maybe I will write a story for my girls. And maybe they will like it better than the very likable The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, which we're reading together now...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Alexander, C'est Moi

Change "Alexander" to "Veronica," and there you have it. I love this book, by the way.

Anyways, it wasn't a bad day as in my pet died, my car was broken into, my laptop exploded, my identity was stolen, etc. etc. No. Not like that. It was far more sinister than that. Sinister because the badness of it was so mundane. All that happened, really, is that nothing went the way it was supposed to.

And now I'm reminded of another children's book. It's a series actually, written by Rosemary Wells. In each one, a bunny kid is having a bad day, but then Janet the Queen of the Bunny Planet comes along and says, "You need a visit to the Bunny Planet. Come in, come in, here's the day that SHOULD have been," and then the bunny kid walks through the portal and has a great freaking day where s/he plays cards by the fire with their Dad and eats gingerbread or tomato soup or whatever. The final page is always the bunny kid back where it all started, but staring up at the Bunny Planet and thinking, "It was there all along."

So, yeah. I'm Alexander and I need a visit to the Bunny Planet.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Best Thing

Oh, I love this! I love what Mary Gaitskill answers in response to the question, "What's the best thing about being a writer?" And, okay, this is from O magazine. Whatever. Go ahead and make fun of me. But now, on to the answer...

"The best thing about writing is being able to clearly express things in a way you can't express in conversation. This is especially true if you are socially awkward and a little inarticulate, which I was when I first started to write seriously (at age 23) and is still how I occasionally feel. In countless conversations I have had, someone has said something and I have had several responses at once, sometimes responses that were nonverbal, coming to me in confused masses of feeling, images, and half-formed thoughts that I could not refine into words until, say, sometime the next day. Anything I did say would feel partial to me and often sounded just plain dumb.

Writing is in some way being able to sit down the next day and go through everything you wanted to say, finding the right words, giving shape to the images, and linking them to feelings and thoughts. It isn't exactly like a social conversation because you aren't giving information in the usual sense of the word or flirting or persuading anyone of anything or proving a point; it's more that you are revealing something whole in the form of a character, a city, a moment, an image seen in a flash out of a character's eyes. It's being able to take something whole and fiercely alive that exists inside you in some unknowable combination of thought, feeling, physicality, and spirit, and to then store it like a genie in tense, tiny black symbols on a calm white page. If the wrong reader comes across the words, they will remain just words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment. It is a deeply satisfying feeling."

It is with much regret (and no doubt hysterical laughter from you, my people) that I declare I am no Mary Gaitskill (have you read Two Girls Fat and Thin? Holy schmoley!), but I hardly have to be, do I, to feel as if everything she says here has been floating around in my head all wispy-like for years and years? I can't tell you how often I've wanted to scream, "I'm really not an idiot! I'm just helplessly inarticulate! Here, let me write you a long letter!"

Speaking of writing, we have added a delightful new person to our writing group, which brings our total to the ideal number of five. She has a lilting accent and full-throated laugh and silver-tinged hair. And she has an agent. Which I won't hold against her. Hahahahahahahahaha!

P.S. I have no idea why that quote is in yellow. Why is that quote in yellow?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yes, I Know: We All Look Alike

Late last night I received an e-mail from my lovely friend, K., who is half Korean and half Caucasian. She said she was at the gym when a woman with whom we have both been friendly for about four years, started chatting with her. After several minutes, K. realized that this woman had mistaken her for me, thus necessitating an awkward correction.

Indignant and infuriated, was I. Of course I shot back a reactionary e-mail. You know, I've had it with her, I began. Earlier this year, when another mutual friend, P., put his arm around her for a quick hug, she said, "Most Asian men aren't physical. You are the most physical Asian man I know!"

*eye roll*

What would lead her to make such a ridiculous, not to mention—hello!—completely random statement? And then she mistakes K. for me when, in fact, K. and I look nothing alike? And even after an inordinately long time, she couldn't even self-correct? And we've both known her for years? How lame is that? So I sent all this in an e-mail to K., who calmly replied...

You know, I really think she's just a space cadet.

Ah, yes. But a space cadet of whom I am now officially weary.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Q & A

Has it ever happened that you're listening to a song in the car—let's say Rihanna's "Umbrella"—and a person is crossing the street—let's say a guy whose pants are too short and whose baseball cap is too large—and this person is walking in such a way that is completely in time to the song? And did this remind you of the opening sequence of "Saturday Night Fever," and did that, in turn, make you laugh out loud?

Has it ever happened that your dentist has referred to you as "young & hip?" And did this make you first gag (because of the dental instrument stuck in your mouth) and then, when the gagging was over and when it was determined that you were fine and not, in fact, about to choke and die, did you laugh out loud? And was it odd to realize that you could laugh directly from your throat (because of the dental instrument stuck in your mouth)?

Finally, has it ever happened that your older brother is moving to Madison-freaking-Wisconsin, but that he gave you an iSight camera for your Mac so that if, for example, you need to know IMMEDIATELY if he thinks your hair looks weird, you can just ping him and find out? Or if your children want to sing him a Bon Jovi song (they're obsessed; I know not what to do), complete with intricate choreography that must be seen to be believed, they can? And did this knowledge also make you laugh out loud?

Those are all the questions I have for today, but I'm sure that YOU now have some. For my next trick, I will anticipate said questions and answer them without your having to say and/or type a single word:

1) Yes, I love the song "Umbrella." It's an illness. If you have a cure, do tell.

2) It was a 2-hour appointment. My jaw is killing me.

3) No, I will not be starting a new "Nesting Ground Webcam" blog. Instead, I will just describe to you what you would see on such a blog:

a) you would see me
b) you would see me dancing around the kitchen
c) you would see me dancing around the kitchen singing "Umbrella"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Extreme(ly) Cake

Does anyone else watch that "Ace of Cakes" show? The one with the EXTREME bakery in Maryland? You can tell it's EXTREME because everyone is so hipster. Pink bangs! Piercings! Tattoos! Blow torches and chainsaws! Right now one of the cakemakers (is she Filipina?! She might be...) is emotionally distraught—she is crying; she cannot speak—because it is midnight, she has been working non-stop for 15 hours, and her "Fear the Turtle! Maryland Tarapin" cake, which is destined for a graduation party, keeps falling apart. It's so hilariously sad, this situation. In the lexicon, it is referred to as a "caketastrophe."

The thing is that none of these cakes is edible. Well, they're edible, but they must not taste very good because they're composed almost entirely of fondant which, if you ask me, looks just like Play-Doh. Anyways, also in this episode, the bakery owner is rehearsing with his band in the rehearsal space behind the bakery, and because they rock so terribly hard, everything in the bakery starts shaking, there are cakes falling over, coffee spilling, glass breaking. Because it's so EXTREME, you know!?

Now they're about to make a Taj Mahal cake! While simultaneously making a cake in the shape (or should I say "fondant in the shape...) of a basket filled with a hamburger, fries, and onion rings! This one is for the 90th birthday of the proprietor of what was once Maryland's premier deli! Oh, wait! They just said they made the hamburger, fries, and onion rings out of rice krispies. WHAT? How did I miss that? I don't understand.

Oh, yes, baby! Back to the Taj Mahal! They're even doing the reflecting pool. This is crazy, this cake! I have to go! Leave me alone!