Where News Matters?

Tonight on the way to swim practice we were, as ever, listening to our local NPR station. After the reporter did the station ID “you’re listening to KPBS, where news matters”; The Kid says, “it’s so funny that they say ‘where news matters’ when sometimes it just doesn’t matter.”

So wise, that nine year old.

It’s even funnier when said nine year old makes a comment like that and her point is immediately proven by back to back ridiculous stories like this and this; and she says “see? This is not real news”.

I’ve created a monster.

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Good Friday

With all the arguments about equality, hate, marriage, womens rights, rape culture, guns, mental illness and such that has been pervading our lives lately; I’m happy that this weekend will be all about getting out of dodge, spending time with my kid and my friends, and enjoying nature, dark skies, and beautiful spring mornings. It is Easter weekend after all, and whether you’re a Christian or not, whether you laugh at the idea of zombie Jesus or wake up for sunrise services bright and early Easter Sunday to celebrate; the fact is that today, Good Friday, is the day that a couple of thousand years ago a man accepted death, accepted being murdered, because he wasn’t afraid to love humanity and to do his best to help others. Not just the straight ones, or the rich ones, or the married ones, or the white ones. In fact, I sort of doubt he even knew any white ones. 

Anyway, I’m sure if I made this post about what I believe about religion, and gender, and guns, and all of these hot button issues of late, I could surely anger someone from every side of the argument. But today is not that day. Today is the day that we should all remember be as selfless as that man who died for his belief in helping others. Lucky for us, we won’t be strung up on a cross for doing it.  Love thy neighbor. Yep, even that one.

And enjoy this tune, Good Friday, by one of my favorite musicians, Elvis Perkins.

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The Queen of Carrot Flowers

When the Kid was about 5, she discovered the album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. She had different favorite songs on the album over time, with all time favorites being Two-Headed Boy and The King of Carrot Flowers part 1. Since Neutral Milk Hotel dissolved as a band long before Emma was born, there wasn’t much hope of taking her to see them, as awesome as that would have been. However, when Jeff Mangum started touring solo in 2011, we figured that was a must, and we took a weekend trip to Oakland in April of 2012 to see him play at the Fox Theatre. Of course, by that time, the Kid was 8, and while she still listened to In the Aeroplane on occasion, she had also moved on to other musical obsessions. Thankfully, she was still pretty excited about the trip, and the show, and she had a great time seeing taking her red fox named Jumper to see the King of Carrot Flowers (as she reffered to him) play live. Of course it goes without saying that the Boyfriend and I also had great time, and the show was fantastic, as evidenced by this video, not taken by me.

Fast forward to 2013 and we find out that the King of Carrot Flowers will be playing at Spreckles Theater in San Diego, much closer to home. We procured some great seats, and come the night of the show the Kid, and Jumper, were excited to go.

kid and jumper

Before the music started, we admired the beautiful inside of the theater, and the Kid took some pictures with my phone. We marveled at the number of shows that the statues and the people on the painted ceiling have seen since the theater opened in 1912.

Photos by the Kid

Photos by the Kid

We also marveled at Jeff’s beard, which prompted the Kid to remark as he walked on stage “wow, he grows hair fast!” Here is a video, from a recent show in Boston so you can witness the current beard and music in all its glory:

A great night of great music was made even more fun by enjoying it with so many other friends also in attendence, and especially by stealthily glancing out of the corner of my eye from time to time to see the Kid singing along, and at times, seeing both her and Jumper gazing at the stage mezmerized (and possibly very tired). On the walk to the car after we left the show, the Kid was just jubilantly happy and was tossing out some pretty great commentary. Note that she has moved from referring to him as the King of Carrot Flowers to “Jeff.” Now that she’s seen him play twice, I guess they’re on a first name basis. Here are a few of her quotes, for your enjoyment:

I love Jeff”s music. And his voice. Its like gypsies making music.

His voice is like the sirens. The ships on the ocean follow his voice. But its not like the scary pointy teeth sirens in that Sinbad movie, its the beautiful sirens.

I changed my mind. I like Jeff’s beard. He looks pretty cute, huh? (Looks like Bieber has been replaced. Whew.)

Jeff’s hat. Its like the ocean to my turf. (I don’t even know what this means, but she said it in all seriousness, and I managed not to outwardly giggle).

For more about Jeff Mangum, his music, and his shows go here.

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Growing Pains

Since the Boyfriend is a total night owl and stays up until ungodly hours every night; bedtime in our house is girl time; when the Kid and I hang out together and read books, or play Minecraft and Words With Friends. If we’re really tired, we just snuggle and play Five Favorite Things. Five Favorite Things is when we take turns naming our five favorite fill-in-the-blank items; vegetables, colors, songs, things you learned in school, etc. The other night this was the conversation that transpired at bedtime:

Me: Ok, I’m too tired to read, wanna play five favorite things?

Kid: Yes, but don’t snuggle me.

Me: Jeez! Ok, I’ll just be over here.

Kid: Mom, you know sometimes when your parents hug you and you’re just kind of over it?

Me: (thoughtful silence)

Kid: I mean, I love you, but… i guess… (sniffles) I’m just (sniffles) growing up (sobs). I don’t want to grow up! (Continues sobbing) I want to stay being a kid.

I won’t bore you with the rest of our conversation, where I assure her that she’s growing up into an awesome, smart, amazing girl, and its ok if she doesn’t want to hug me sometimes. And I tell her that sometimes I’ll hug her anyway just to embarass her. And she giggles and asks me to massage her hands like Grandma Cobbie used to do.  And I am simultaneously heartbroken and proud that my only kid is growing up.

She may grow up, but I hope she never outgrows her sense of style.

She may grow up, but I hope she never outgrows her sense of style.

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Rip It To Shreds

So my dog, Clover, is a chewer. She has more chew toys than I can count on both hands, and while she is fond of all of them, she also loves to chew things that should not be chewed.  Non-chew toy things Clover has chewed to pieces include shoes, socks, dishtowels, plastic forks, the rug in the living room, the wooden leg of the couch, cardboard recyclables, plants, paper, extension cords, tupperware… I could go on. And I will, in pictures. Here are two recent noteworthy ones.

Clover clearly has a taste for music (hardy har har). This is not the first time she has dug the Boyfriend’s cds out of a box and mutilated them. Funny thing though, she’s pretty good with a writing implement for someone with no thumbs.

Clover thinks Jason Falkner is tasty.

Clover thinks Jason Falkner is tasty.

The first time I boarded Clover the girl at the boarding kennel asked if she had a bed. She kind of looked at me like I was the worst dog mom in the world when I said “no, trust me, she’s good with the floor.”  Now that she’s more than a year old, we thought we would give a bed another try.

Mmm... stuffing.

Mmm… stuffing.

Turns out, she’s still good with the floor. Maybe next year, Clover.





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20 Books in 2012: A Belated Best of List

Well this sure is overdue! I completed my goal of reading 20 books in 2012 just in the nick of time when I finished up Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated on New Years Eve, curled up in my sleeping bag in our tent in Joshua Tree. It definitely wasn’t my favorite book of the year, in fact it was maybe my least favorite, even though I really wanted to love it. But more on that later. Lets talk about my favorite books of 2012.

night circusThe Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern

If you know me, you know that I’m typically a non-fiction fan, and it takes a pretty darned good work of fiction to make me rave. That being said, The Night Circus was the best book that I read in 2012.  Erin Morgenstern expertly combines what are, for me, the holy trinity of fictional elements: period piece, love story (but not cheesy), and supernatural stuff. I could find no fault with this book, the story hooks you in immediately, the descriptions are beautiful, and you can’t put it down. I don’t even want to tell you anything about the plot because I just want you to read it without having any clue what’s coming next. Go do it. You’ll thank me. Oh, and as an interesting aside, this book started as a NaNoWriMo book. Pretty neat, and inspiring.

brain on fireBrain on Fire: My Month of Madness – Susannah Cahalan

Now for some fantastic non-fiction. If you know me you also know that I love memoirs, particularly on the topic of mental illness, psychological disorders, and the like. Cahalan tells about her experience with a rare disorder that caused hallucinations, paranoia, and was a medical mystery of sorts. Since she has very little memory of the experience, much of the account is reconstructed by medical records, videos, interviews, etc. It’s a page turner, a bit frightening, and definitely will increase your appreciation for modern medicine.

ronsonThe Psychopath Test – Jon Ronson

Another book about mental illness? Yep. Ronson is an investigative journalist who has written a few other great books, including the fantastic Them: Adventures With Extremists. In The Psychopath Test, Ronson explores the prevalence of psychopaths in society. Turns out they are everywhere. You’ve probably seen a psychopath or two just this week. Ronson looks not only at the type of people we all think of as psychopaths, you know, the murderers and terrorists; but also the high-functioning psychopaths who have become successful in their own lives. After reading this book, I can think of a few people I interact with frequently who would likely pass the test, I bet you will think of a few too.  If you want to get a taste of The Psychopath Test prior to investing some reading time, check out the TED talk that Jon Ronson did:

womanHow to Be a Woman – Caitlan Moran

This book should be required reading for every teenage girl, not to mention every grown woman and man. Moran explores the concept of modern feminism, and encourages women  to stand up and together refuse to be treated as the weaker sex; to refuse to be oversexualized; and to refuse to be faulted because we have the ability to bear children. If you’re afraid to read a book written by a brash, foul-mouthed, feminist; then at a minimum, listen to this interview with Caitlin Moran on Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

readyReady Player One – Ernest Cline

Nerd alert. Post-apocalyptic dystopia, virtual reality video game world, with a million great 70’s and 80’s pop-culture references? Yes, please.  My favorite chapter? 0027, hands down. If you are a 30 or 40 something male, just go read this book, chances are there’s something in there for you. Girls, if you played video games and listened to RUSH instead of (or in addition to) playing Barbie and listening to Madonna, you’ll be stoked on this too.

200px-a_game_of_thrones_novel_coversSo those are my five favorites of 2012. Honorable mention goes to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. It took a few (hundred) pages for me to get into it, but I finished all five books (several thousand pages) in the first half of 2012 and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the next one. Get on it George.

Oh, yeah. About Everything is Illuminated. A friend recommended this book to me when I told her I was doing some research about my Ukrainian grandparent’s ancestral villages. I really went into the book wanting to love it, but the whole bad English bit got annoying right quick. The book follows two storylines, and that can be a bit confusing, but both are great, and a bit heart wrenching. The idea for the book was great, the delivery was poor. That being said, I watched the movie version (starring one of my favorite people, Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello) and loved it. I usually don’t recommend this, but watch the movie, then read the book if you want more detail. I wish I had done it that way.

Want to see what else I read in 2012? I kept track, just for you: 20 Books in 2012

And just for the fun of it, here are some past years reading lists:

45 Books in 2011 reviews

45 Books in 2011 more reviews!

45 Books in 2011 list

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Who’s Your Daddy?

Once upon a time, in January of 2012, a friend of mine had a dog, named Victoria, who got knocked up by neighboring dog, who promptly ran away.  Victoria had eight adorable puppies, and rather than making Victoria raise all eight as an octomom, my friend found loving homes for seven of the pups, and kept one to raise with Victoria.

Puppy pile!

Puppy pile!

We are one of those loving homes, and we picked up our female puppy, Clover, in March of 2012. Just about a year ago! Wow, time flies.

Baby Clover

Baby Clover

Anyway, as we watched Clover grow, we got to wondering what kind of dog Clover’s dad actually was. We obviously knew what breed Victoria was, but we were curious what we could find out about daddy. So just for the fun of it, we recently had a doggie DNA test done. After some research, we went with Wisdom Panel, as they seemed to have the best reviews. I saw a review that someone posted on Amazon, recommending that in order to get the most accurate dna sample we should have Clover drink some water and then crate her for a few hours so she can’t chew on anything, then swab the inside of her mouth before she has a chance to lick us or anything else. Thankfully Clover was quite cooperative when we followed those instructions, and we sent her samples off to be tested. The test said it would take three weeks to get the results.

While we patiently waited for the results, I sent around some pictures of Clover and asked some friends to chime in on what they thought Clover’s mix was, without telling any of them what we knew about her doggie parents.

What kind of dog am I?

What kind of dog am I?

In case you want to do some guessing of your own before you scroll down for the results, its probably important to know that Clover is about 14 months old, her back is about knee high (on a 5′-6″ me), and she weighs about 65 lbs. Here are the guesses we got, in order of frequency: Lab, Retriever, Australian Shepherd, Collie, Newfoundland, Coonhound, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Setter. Good guesses!

And now, the envelope please…


Keep going…


A little further…



DNA says: Golden Retriever crossed with Saint Bernard/Australian Shepherd mix

Wisdom Panel mixed breed DNA certificate

We already knew that Clover’s mom Victoria was a Golden Retriever, and it was rumored that dad was a Saint Bernard/Husky mix.  I’m curious what the owners of the runaway daddy will say about the Saint Bernard/Australian Shepherd result, I don’t know how sure they were about what kind of dog they had before he took to the hills. I’d also be curious to see the result if any of Clover’s brothers or sisters have the test done. Doing the DNA test was a fun little exercise, an if any of you decide to do this with your mixed breed dogs, I want to see what kind of success you have with the test, so let me know the results!

Mama Victoria and her puppies

Mama Victoria and her puppies

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Imagining the Shape

The kid never ceases to amaze me with what music she latches on to. One day its Justin Bieber, the next she can’t get enough of something fantastic like The New Pornographers, her current musical obsession. Right now, she’s wearing out Twin Cinema every time we’re in the car. She likes to stick her head out the window “puppy style” and sing at the top of her lungs. I love it.

Yesterday, on the way to her evening Girl Scout cookie booth, she says to me. “mom, have you seen this band play live?”  And I tell her that I saw them play for a minute or two several years ago at San Diego Street Scene, but that I’ve never seen a whole show. And she says, “oh, ok. Because I’m wondering if when they play The Bleeding Heart Show, if they show you the shape. You know, when he says ‘our golden handshake has been smashed into this shape’. I’m not able to imagine the shape he’s talking about.”

I swear. She kills me. I love her so much. Here’s the song, lets see if you can imagine the shape.

Posted in Kids, Music, Parenting | Tagged | 3 Comments

Are we having fun yet? *cough cough*

We went to Disneyland this week. I got a lot of great photos of the kid, but this one of total strangers might be my favorite. The picture doesn’t do justice to the cloud of smoke hanging over the “designated smoking area.” Aren’t they just the picture of a healthy, happy lifestyle? (Note sarcasm).

I find it hilarious that smokers have been confined to zoo displays. When will they learn?

I find it hilarious that smokers have been confined to zoo displays. When will they learn?

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Saying Goodbye to Grandma Marian

On Sunday morning we said goodbye to the boyfriend’s Grandma Marian at the ripe old age of 95 years young. I met her in 2007, when she just a spring chicken, and she won me over immediately with her smart aleck mouth and affinity for crossword puzzles.  She always had a joke ready to go, and was ready to sing you an old tune for any occasion. When we told her we got a new puppy named Clover, she immediately launched into a rendition of “Roll Me Over in the Clover“, a song we had never heard before but will now never forget. In addition to being well versed in early to mid 20th century sexual innuendo laced folk songs, Grandma Marian was the queen of the dance floor, as evidenced by this photo from her granddaughter’s wedding in 2008, when she was 91.

Grandma Marian ruling the dance floor!

Grandma Marian ruling the dance floor!

Word around town is that Grandma Marian was a heck of a water polo player in her youth, and her grandson-in-law thought it would be nice for all of us to sign a water polo ball for her to take with her into that great olympic sized pool in the sky. 


You already are a champ Grandma Marian. We are all so blessed to have known and loved you. Say hi to my Grandma Cobb and my Grandma Ollie. I hope the three of you are knitting, doing crosswords, eating pierogies and pies, and dancing like crazy. We love you and will miss you.

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