Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Major General Antonio Taguba + Adventures on the 38L

Late Monday afternoon I dropped the girls off at my parent's place and then, in what can only be described as an intrepid leap of faith, quickstepped it over to Geary & Park Presidio, where I just barely caught the 38 Limited. I gifted the bus driver with quite the dazzling Nesting Ground Mistress smile, but alas received only a grunt in response. It's okay, Mr. Bus Driver! thought I. Driving a MUNI bus is its own special kind of hell, and I will not begrudge you your gloomy state of mind.

Once seated, I had every intention of observing life through the dirty bus windows and eavesdropping on various conversations in the name of literary art. Unfortunately, within two stops so many people had boarded the bus that my view consisted of three crotches, one filthy messenger bag, and one profile of a woman overenthusiastically sucking on a plum. A sort of melancholy nostalgia washed over me as I...ha! I'm kidding! I was awash in no such nostalgia! I was just grateful that I am no longer a regular patron of San Francisco public transportation.

Arrived at 1st & Market with plenty of time left to browse at Stacey's where, I'm elated to report, I was able to purchase a copy of Noel's new novel, Talking to the Moon. Skipped out of Stacey's and next door to the Commonwealth Club where my eyes were immediately drawn to a handsome man. I thought Ooooooh, who's that? and it turned out to be...my husband. Hahahahahahahahaha!

Good thing: the Taguba event was sold out.

Bad thing: senses assaulted by the super stinky cheese being served in the lobby.

Good thing: the General entered to a standing ovation.

Bad thing: a very tall man was sitting in front of me, partially obstructing my view.

Good thing: by employing my astounding powers of concentration, I silently willed the tall man to shift ever-so-slightly to his left.

Bad thing: he was then partially obstructing the view of a woman who was shorter than I.

Since General Taguba's presentation and subsequent q & a offered the same information as the New Yorker article (in his opening statements, he joked that maybe he should just pass out copies of the article and call it a day), I spent my time simply observing the man.

Everyone talks about integrity and honesty and claims to live their lives accordingly without bothering to acknowledge the corners we cut, the exceptions we make for ourselves, the selective memory we employ. But I got the feeling that there are no cut corners with this man. He is deeply principled and has a moral center so freaking indestructible that he's still standing after the treatment he received from Rumsfeld & Company for simply reporting the disgusting truth of what happened at Abu Ghraib. He became emotional towards the end of his talk, emotion that manifested in excruciating gaps of ten, fifteen, twenty seconds of silence. He somehow still harbors great love for his profession, and I submit that anyone who wasn't moved when his voice broke while he expressed gratitude for having been a part of our "magnificent Army," may not, in fact, have a heartbeat.

As we were leaving, I heard a woman behind us say to her companion, "Definitely one of the good guys." She was right, of course, and it's just so frustrating and disheartening to know that while good people do exist, it doesn't appear that any are presently employed in leadership positions at the White House.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Stop Thief!

I've been having such good, clean writer fun while working on my little line-stealing project. You know, the one in which your Nesting Ground Mistress steals a little poetry and responds with fiction? I've used the following (without line breaks) so far:

1. “I'm going to die,” he says, not to anyone in particular. It's the sting of bitterness he's talking to, and at the head of the table in a Chinatown restaurant he orders another scotch before dinner.

2. All is memory, its guise in grass tufts, stone piles and low voices.

3. The small things I gathered as a child had the heartbeat of a bird.

4. All day he would gather twine from his mother's frayed skirts and braid them into wreaths of darker hues.

And I think I will be doing these, among others...

5. My power to haunt you is uncanny.

6. The first time I touched him, I thought of nothing but fruit.

And now for a little gameshow fun...can you match the poet with his/her work?

a. Daniel Tsukayama

b. Juliette Chen

c. Bino Realuyo

d. Jaime Jacinto

e. Barbara Tran

f. Oliver de la Paz

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Meet the Filipinos"

On our family message board the other day, my cousin Luj linked to a travel site at which one Elizabeth V. Reyes—in a section titled "Meet the Filipinos"—described her countrymen/women like this:

Filipinos live in a modern world without being thoroughly modern. The majority are people still in the bosom of Mother Nature—noble savages, both charming and exasperating...They are natural musicians and Westernized Asians—a combination of dusky Malay and fiery Spanish with a touch of Chinese and a generous topping of hip, savvy America.

*moment of silence*

*squirm* *mutter*

And so I wondered how it is that Filipinos so often end up being described as the ill-begotten spawn of Milli Vanilli, an oompa loompa, and the mayor of the Munchkin City. Sometimes I think I write stories just so I can create characters who negate that image. Considering how small the readership is for any given story (um, especially mine), I suppose I'm really only doing it for myself.

In related news (really, if you think about it for a second, it's related!) the SU and I will be at the Commonwealth Club on Monday evening (thanks to Ms. BJ's reminder e-mail) to hear Major General Antonio Taguba (ret.) talk about how all the total dickheads in power knew exactly what was going on at Abu Ghraib. If you haven't read the New Yorker article yet, it's right here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Strawberry Shortcake La-La-La

I don't know what the heck that title means, but I'm going with it.

Okay, so one of the things I love about Summer is that I can make a leisurely breakfast for the kids, as opposed to screaming Eat something! Grab a yogurt! Put Grape Nuts! And you can put some chocolate chips, too! Hurry up! We're gonna be late! Or, okay, you can have toast! But put peanut butter on it! Don't forget to drink milk! And an apple! Eat an apple! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! from my bedroom while I get dressed.

Today, on this first official day of summer vacation, I made strawberry shortcakes. Strawberry shortcakes are, arguably, a dessert. But why? Why must that be? A biscuit is breakfast food. Strawberries can be breakfast food. Why are they not breakfast food when served together?

Big questions, those.

And now, if you'll allow me, I will take you on an unbelievably exciting pictorial tour of my strawberry shortcake process. Here are the biscuit ingredients in the mixing bowl:

Told you it was exciting. Here, now, is the biscuit dough spooned out onto the baking pan:

Here are the lovely, but lonely strawberries awaiting their handsome biscuits:

Here are the handsome biscuits fresh from the oven:

And here are the lovely strawberries and handsome biscuits, together at last:

I think maybe I will make this again soon. Like...tomorrow.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Kindly Requesting...

...your forgiveness for my absence.

Like Gladys, I feel compelled to say "I'm still here." While she's been living in the alternate universe of HGTV, I've been leading an existence even more Mom-centric than usual. What with preschool graduation (and requisite picnic), last day of school festivities (and requisite picnic), the ongoing Principal interview process (alas, no picnic involved), various school-centered social events, a total of 8 gifts for teachers accompanied by 8 heartfelt notes which took me an inordinate amount of time to write, etc. etc., I've not been 100% sure of where I'm supposed to be at any given hour. Strange to think there were parents all over the country performing the same rituals and/or tending to the same responsibilities. No wonder we look so ragged. Or maybe that's just me.

I'm going to go do something about the ragged-ness now; I'm sure you understand. But I'll be back to far more regular posting on Monday, fresh as can be and ready to ease into Summer. Before I leave off, I will say that warm-weather reading is well under way, admittedly and happily because our television is currently off-limits. I've read the following so far, and if there's an asterisk following the author's name, the book comes with the highly desirable Nesting Ground Seal of Approval:

Small Island by Andrea Levy *
In the Distant Land of My Father by Bo Caldwell
Missing Mom by Joyce Carol Oates
The Book of Embraces by Eduardo Galleano *
The Gods We Worship Live Next Door by Bino Realuyo *

And currently in the queue...

Night of Sorrows by Frances Sherwood
The Divine Husband by Francisco Goldman

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Love Note to My Sconehenge English Muffins

Dearest Sconehenge English Muffins,

I will never forget the moment my eyes befell you, sitting haughty and above-it-all on the display table at Draeger's. How I lovingly lifted you from your resting spot. How I spoke to you these words: Oooh, English muffins, I must have you! Why, you ask? Why do I love you so? Because you stand—nay, rise—an unbelievable two inches (I just measured you; this is fact). Because when split apart, you are dense and slightly crumbly. Because when dotted lightly with butter and placed in the toaster, your edges get crispy, but your body remains delightful in its squishiness. Because you sated my hunger completely, selflessly, and with unprecedented culinary aplomb.

I remain, now and forever, your servant in all I do,


And now, oh faithful Nesting Ground readers, behold:

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Good, The Bad, The Late Night Caffeine

GOOD: Loaf of take-n-bake pugliese bread from Grace Baking Company. For extra crispy crust, sprinkle with water before placing in the oven!
BAD: Inability to locate potholders when it is time to drain the pasta water.

GOOD: Writer's group tonight!
BAD: Guilt trip due to the fact that attendance at said writer's group means that I will not be in attendance at tonight's school board meeting, a meeting at which parents were asked to show their support for a quick resolution to the current contract negotiations.

At this juncture, I must ask: where does one draw the metaphorical line in the sand?

GOOD: Netflix mailbox arrivals: The Painted Veil and Curse of the Golden Flower.
BAD: HDTV currently unavailable, as the viewing room is undergoing an improvement project.

GOOD: The school year drawing to a close.
BAD: The school year drawing to a close.

GOOD: A rarity: Tony, Toni, Tone on the radio.
BAD: My overenthusiastic singing (la da da da dee, la da da da dee, la da da da dee dee dee, sons of soul y'all) resulting in man one car over gaping at me in much the same way he might gape at...at...someone who can turn their eyelids inside out.

GOOD: Diet Coke.
BAD: Diet Coke at 11:00 pm

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Nesting Ground Recommends

I finished reading Andrea Levy's Small Island a few days ago, and I must report that I enjoyed it cover-to-cover.

The lives of a Jamaican couple (Gilbert fresh from volunteering with the Royal Air Force, and Hortense all light-skinned and haughty) who move to England after the war are intertwined with one Mrs. Queenie Bligh, whose husband goes missing while fighting the war and shows up back on her doorstep two years after the whole shebang comes to an end. The characters take turns narrating in the present as well as in the "before," seamlessly sharing their entire life stories in voices so distinct I can still hear them in my head. One thing that I keep thinking on is Gilbert's desire for invisibility, a desire he settles on after being mistreated at his hard-won postal worker's job:

I yearned for home as a drunk man for whisky. For only there could I be sure that someone looking on my face for the first time would regard it without reaction. No gapes, no gawps, no cussing, no looking quickly away as if seeing something unsavoury. Just a meeting as unremarkable as passing your mummy in the kitchen. What a thing was this to wish for. That a person regarding me should think nothing. What a forlorn desire to seek indifference.

The novel is filled with fresh takes on empire, racism, love, and forgiveness. Plus, it's often funny. And we all know how the Nesting Ground Mistress likes funny...

Monday, June 04, 2007


Admittedly, Enrique Iglesias is a cube of cheddar cheese deep-fried in oil squeezed from another block of cheddar cheese, and then dusted with parmesan. Simply put, he is cheesy. But look at him here and then tell me he doesn't move up like 100 spaces on the pop culture list that we all pretend not to have:

Can you think of one other self-proclaimed male heterosexual entertainer who would have done this? The ice cube I call my heart has melted.

Friday, June 01, 2007


I am going to an event later this afternoon at which it is necessary for me to speak at a podium and look eminently presentable (plus, later on is my weekly date night with the SU, for which I also make an effort to look like I do not spend all day running errands and schlepping my children from place to place). I am currently miles away from my "presentable" goal, as evidenced by the fact that I am now sporting a quite depressing sweats-and-ponytail ensemble.

First step, of course, is to shower and wash my hair. Unfortunately, there are 3 painters in my house right now working on a project. They are all quite nice, but I don't know that I want to, you know, take a shower while 3 strange men are hanging about.

What to do? This is the only one hour timeslot in which I can get cleaned up.

Oh, frickin' frackin' freaky...