Wednesday, July 29, 2009


What follows is a jumbled up mess of things that are—for me—like little droplets of joy rain:

There's nothing funnier than watching my kids dance when they don't know I'm watching. They make faces that can only be described as the kind of face they THINK they should make. I can't believe I'm going to put a photo of Ben Stiller on my blog, but it can't be helped. This is the face they make:


I like the way that peaches, plums, cherries and their brethren are referred to as "stone fruit." Here's a picture of a Stone Fruit Patchwork Bake (I love that!), and I want to make it immediately and eat the whole thing myself and not feel guilty:

Recipe here, but probably not for long.


Yesterday we spent more than an hour sitting in the Animation Studio at Zeum with Sunny and his daughter. Here's what we made:


I enjoy The Jamie Oliver. I enjoy that The Jamie is rather rumply and his teeth are crooked. I enjoy that The Jamie describes male friends as "lovely," though I think this is quite a common thing for English gentlemen to say. But most of all, I enjoy The Jamie's new magazine which is called, of course, Jamie Magazine.

It looks like a regular magazine in this picture, but it's not. First of all, it's printed on that super heavy, texture-y paper that makes everything slightly soft-focus. The photography and writing (not to mention the type and other design elements) are quirky English charming.


You know what's cute? My salt water sandals, that's what. Sure, they look like they're for six-year-olds (and they are!), but they also have them for grown-up Nesting Ground Mistress types, and I think they are wonderful. Wow, they look really ugly in this picture, but it's okay because it means no one else will buy them, and I will be the only one who has them neener neener neener:


Also what's nice is this boxed set of mini 2010 Moleskines. There's one per month, and after coveting them online I found them at the MOMA gift shop, and of course I had to have them, but it's a leeeeetle bit like torture because they can't be used until January:


That concludes this edition of Joy Rain, Summer 2009

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blues of the Overnight Variety

I've been looking forward to today for a long time because it's the day/night of the optional sleepover at the girls' camp (known now and forever more as The Best Camp EVER). Would they do it? And if they did, what would WE do? After all, we haven't been in the house overnight without the kids since the day we brought the twins home from the hospital. A strange prospect.

By the end of the first day of camp on Monday, they had all made up their minds. "Oh, we're doin' it," they said. "For sure, for sure!" Still, I doubted. Lea has been known to weep and vomit and leave the world's most heartbreaking voicemail messages when the SU and I are out at the movies. Sometimes she will wake up in the middle of the night and lead me to her room saying only the following two sleep-slurred words: "Want Mama."

But this morning, all of them remained resolute. When we arrived at camp loaded down with sleeping bags and other assorted sleep paraphernalia, Risa and Vida hugged me fiercely and were off running. Lea stayed put. "Can you stay for awhile?" she asked. Frankly, I wanted to stay forever. "Can you watch us play chaos tag?"

"No, I can't," I said. It was terrible. I had to force a smile when all I wanted to do was cry. And I had to make it sincere because I could see the panic creeping into her eyes. Oh, oh, oh, it was so terrible. "Look, all the other parents are leaving now. It's time for you guys to have fun."

"Oh...kay." she said. She gave me a big hug and kiss, which I cut off early because I didn't want our good-bye to seem like a dramatic farewell. She turned towards one of the new friends she's made, and they started to discuss whether or not to join the chaos tag.

"See you tomorrow!" I said quickly. And then I ran. I ran past one of the program managers who, though only 20-years old, is a wise owl. He followed me.

"It's okay," he said. "She can sleep with Risa and Vida in Camp B, if she wants."

"Really?" I said. I put on my sunglasses because I did not want a 20-year-old, wise or no, to see me on the verge of tears.

"Yeah, it's totally fine. Do you want me to tell her?"

"Only if she starts to get upset."

"Okay, I'll do that," he said.

I wanted to throw my arms around him and declare my undying love and gratitude, but that seemed a little extreme. Instead, I drove home, fretting.

The good news is that I finally figured out what I'm going to do tonight: I'm going to see if I can make tomorrow come a little faster.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Camp Nesting Ground

I just looked briefly at my archives, and I cannot believe I've been blogging here for almost six years. And...that's all I have to say about that.

I am feeling good, lovely people. I am feeling good and healthy and happy and thankful for all that my body does for me when it is those things. I wanted to spend my frenetic energy on personal stuff, but that hardly seemed fair to my neglected children, so instead I packed last week full of activities that would make up for the four dismal weeks that preceded it. Last week was, in fact, Camp Nesting Ground. Let me reproduce for you our impressive schedule of events:

- private ceramics class kindly orchestrated by fabulous pal J.
- perusal and purchase of little things at DAISO Japan, where Lea claims they "play the worst music evah"
- harmless lunch at Elephant Bar
- long and hilarious visit with other pal J. and family. Tsismis for the adults, play for the kids
- home for library book reading session

- ladies lunch
- Cheeky Monkey Toys (browsing ONLY)
- Kepler's for many, many, many books
- Cold Stone Creamery
- home for reading

- Japantown for lunch
- Kinokuniya Bookstore
- Kinoykuniya Stationery Store
- home for reading and turning of cartwheels

- extraordinarily long afternoon at Ryder Park, at which water shoots up into the air intermittently and all the kids scream "WATER!" like they didn't know it was gonna happen.
- Dance class
- home for reading and demonstration of dance class combinations

- the Ferry Building!
- lunch with the SU at The Slanted Door, where the girls were mesmerized by the restrooms
- ice cream & sorbet with Sunny at Ciao Bella!
- book shopping at The Book Passage
- home for reading

- the SU took charge of camp on this day, bustling them off to the farmer's market and whatnot

- back to the Shoreline area, where I walked and they rode their scooters. Afterwards, much scuttling about over rocks to find clam shells.
- home, where they disappeared for two hours and then re-emerged having choreographed a performance to Sting's "Desert Rose" (I SWEAR TO GOD). Vida prefaced it thus: "We will not be taking questions until after the performance. Okay: once in the land of India, a princess watched as her two servants danced. She grew so bored that she decided to join them! Thank you for watching!" I have to say that while still utterly dismal, this was by far their best performance in this particular genre. They turned about 700 cartwheels.

Which brings us to today, Monday. A few hours ago, I slathered them in sunblock and dropped them off at an actual camp. It was so beautiful, I almost wanted to stay:

Key word: almost. Silly rabbits, you know your Nesting Ground Mistress is terrified of nature.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Readings

First I attended a reading of little writers:

And some of them were so, so good. My favorite was a kid named Sam, who looked like a 4'8" version of Sean Penn. "Hey," he said to the audience. "I'm Sam, and this is my poem." But there was another one, too, who read a fractured fairytale that transported Little Red Riding Hood (here, Little Black Hood) into an urban neighborhood, where she headed to the corner store to fulfill her mother's shopping list. Yet another writer re-told Rapuzunel, but had the prince accidentally rip out all her hair on his way up the tower.

I have to mention that Risa read her story, "Trapped!" and that the exclamation mark cracks me up every time I see it. Vida read a color poem. Did you know that "lavender is the bruise that is left when you take out a splinter?" Well, it is.

And then I attended a reading of big writers: Randall Mann, Kristin Naca, Debbie Yee, and Mariano Zaro. Here's a picture I blatantly stole from Oscar Bermeo's flickr:

First of all, I appreciated the admission that some of these fine poets made about feeling like "lazy writers" or not always being intrinsically inspired to write. I think it was Debbie Yee who went on to say that being part of a community of writers is crucial to her writing.

Randall Mann and Kristin Naca read such honest work, and were hilarious between poems. I admired the concise language—crisp even in their self-described "torrid love affair" poems, where some loss of control would be, you know, understandable. On my drive home, I thought about what a contrast this is to my own unwieldy (fiction) writing. I'm newly inspired to find the one right word, instead of twenty almost-kinda-maybe words.

Debbie Yee's poems (for me) had a fairytale, spun-sugar quality (and you know how I love fairytales...), what with the tiny animals, the moon, and the aftermath of a failed princess marriage. Her reading style was restrained—even quiet—and I liked the way it forced me to listen more carefully. So charming.

And then there was Mariano Zaro, who read every poem in both Spanish (swoon) and English. Again, there was that gorgeous quality where not a word goes to waste. Or, more to the point, every word counts.

Another fun things about the PAWA Arkipelago Series reading is that I got to hang out with Pinoy Capital and BPF (Blog Pal Forevah!) author Sunny Vergara. If you require visual proof, click here. I also got to chat with Barbara Jane and Oscar, who I hadn't seen in four thousand years:

And finally, it was so nice to see Oscar Penaranda and Penelope Flores. The whole afternoon reminded me of how long it's been since I was able to attend a reading, and that I should do it again. Soon.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Netflix Pins Me Down

I was just taking a moment to put some DVDs in my Netflix queue, which is a process I find generally annoying because navigating the site is—for me—so, so, so anti-intuitive. As I bumbled along, I noticed they'd added yet another unhelpful navigation feature. This one suggested films based on my previous choices, and then broke the films down into hilariously-named categories. Ready? I am, according to Netflix, someone who enjoys...

..."Visually-Striking Gritty Independent Movies." To which I ask: Is there a category called "Badly Lit Independent Movies?"

..."Critically-Acclaimed Cerebral Comedies." To which I say: "Cerebral?" Let's not kid ourselves.

..."Inspiring Dramas." To which I proffer: That's weird. I usually like the un-inspiring ones.

..."Emotional Movies Featuring a Strong Female Lead." To which I wonder: Do you really mean, "Good To Watch While in the Throes of PMS?"

..."Dark Movies Based on Contemporary Literature." To which I admit: Guilty.

Here's hoping iTunes doesn't start doing the same thing because my results, I'm sure, would be far, far more embarrassing. Like, "Incredibly Corny Ballads by the Most Incredibly Corny Singers Ever. Ever."

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Indie Fan

My older girls have been attending the Bay Area Writing Project's Young Writer's Camp for the past three weeks. Lucky little ducks. They write every day from 9 'til 12, and then they jump in the car jabbering away about metaphors, collaborative writing, meter, description, story, etc. etc., and then they come home and turn cartwheels in the backyard. It's good to be nine years old. Tomorrow night our local indie bookstore is hosting an Author's Night, and all the campers have the opportunity to read from their work. The girls are FREAKING OUT in the way only tweens can freak out. They're both so overwrought and mentally exhausted. Hilarious.

Speaking of our local indie bookstore...Lea and I were there the other day, and she got a papercut while reading a Little Golden Book (it's the 65th anniversary, and there's a big marketing push, and omg they are hard to resist). She found a clerk and asked him for a band-aid. He said, "Sure. Hold on a minute."

He emerged from the stockroom with a tissue, and said, "We're all out. But press this against it. I'll be right back."

Then he went to Walgreen's AND BOUGHT A BOX OF BAND-AIDS.

Let me just say that I don't think your run-of-the-mill B & N or Borders employee would have done that. Nor would your run-of-the-mill B & N or Borders host an Author's Night for a crew of mini writers. your next book at an indie, why don't you.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Wanted: Dirt

My little world is static at the moment. I wake up, do what I can do, take a nap, wake up, do what I can do. My kids are all sorts of peeved—Vida, in particular, thinks this is all a ruse—and I can't blame them, especially since I go for long stretches of the day feeling okay. Then I suddenly need to fall asleep, and they're all "Wha?!!!" I feel so guilty. Summer is supposed to be all about ice cream smears on your cheek, sunburn on your shoulders, super dirty feet, lazing around the park and whatnot. What is painfully clear to us all at the moment is that my kids are too clean.

I'm not a complete failure: I have summoned energy enough for a few trips to the library, a couple of lunches, camp carpooling, one afternoon of bowling (admittedly, I couldn't bowl), etc. But what we really need is to get...dirty. To that end, we are heading up to the gold country—courtesy of my delightful sister-in-law—for our traditional Fourth of July shenanigans. By the end of the weekend, I hope I will have fully shaken my mono-grossness.

Speaking of mono-grossness, did I tell you that I had to have a steroid shot in the general area of my gluteus maximus? So if you are wondering—and I'm sure you are—if there are any ways in which your Nesting Ground Mistress is like a professional athlete, there you go.

For the record, it didn't hurt at all.