Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Huge gaping hole and hope

There is a post that I have to save in draft mode until all the crap that surrounds it blows over. I don't mean to be cryptic, but a call from a private investigator on Christmas Eve pitched me into a deep funk, I had a write about it (the draft), and I am feeling much better. Wyatt is fine. Matty is fine. I am fine.

On the positive side, the slew of beautiful wee babies being sprung in Bishop is making me happy for all the new parents. Yes, we apparently are a breeding town, even if our population is smaller than it was in the 1960s.

Kate, Matty, Zach, Michelle and I tucked into a 1.5 lb barrel of Spudmaster ColossalChips from Bellflower, Missouri. The potato chips were a lovely pressie sent from my lovely friend Steve in St. Louis. Michelle made an exotic lamb stew, we played poker, finished the keg of Brutal, and tucked into the chips. It was a fine night. Picture of our heads buried in the Spudmaster tin will soon follow.

Friday, December 26, 2008

"No good deed goes unpunished"

That's what I have been told.

So, over the years, I've called 911 in the middle of the night when it appears that one of our neighbors is beating his partner. It follows a pattern - tt always has. There is foul swearing. There is the sound of various things and the partner being beaten. There are pleas for the beating to stop. Well, apparently, I have been the only person in the neighborhood to call. Maybe I'm the only one who doesn't fear deportation? So, all my 911 calls are going to be used in the prosecution of the man who was caught beating and imprisoning his partner last summer (The partner made *that* call).

I have been in a deep funk lately in part because on Christmas Eve, a private investigator working for the attorney representing the man wanted to question me about my calls to 911. His long ol' cheery message got me shaking. At heart, I think he wanted me to contradict myself. I say let my calls to 911 stand. I am mostly unnerved because now I know that my name and details are on public record. I have a child to protect from exposure to abusive and degrading behavior. On one hand, it's made me brave. On the other, I feel incredibly vulnerable.

Post script January 15th: Two night after Christmas, a sheriff's deputy tried to serve me a subpoena. We were gone, and Janet found him wandering around our yard with a big flashlight.

On the 30th, the man was banging around outside his trailer, and I called 911. New Year's Eve, poor Michelle got involved when she heard the partner scream for help. A detective even turned up to the Black Sheep to get her statement.

It's been very ugly and emotionally draining. It has taken a lot of energy and talking about it with friends not to succumb to a deep deep depression. Matt has been supportive enough, but just can't see why Michelle and I would be freaked out.

The other night, we decided to have a wee pity party, where a few of us with concerns in our lives would say goodbye to those concerns and send them up the woodstove flames. The beater was top of my list.

Maybe it worked?

I was told all along that despite all the evidence against the man, he demanded a trial. Well, last night, he pled to a deal and will still serve time. He is currently out on his own recognizance until sentencing , but there are definite no contact orders in place.

Michelle and I haven't been sleeping well and still aren't quite, but the ball is rolling and the psychic goo is lifting.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wow, they must really want the business

We picked an Animas Ping pump for Wyatt. It has a remote control unit that administers insulin from 10 feet away. I called and left a message for our nurse at CHLA this morning to get the ball rolling and she called back within 15 minutes. An hour and a half later, a representative from Animas Ping called and took our insurance, medical, and order details.

It's been great working with competent folks who have all the right answers to my financial, medical, and logistical questions. I wish all medicine worked this well.

These suckers retail for about $7,500, so maybe that has something to do with it?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Proof of a higher being

The Owens Valley. The place where we live. The place we love so much.

Zabars' cinnamon rugelach. They achieve even higher perfection when we leave them on our woodstove for a few minutes.

Russian River's Sanctification: Who's afraid of the "big bad BRET?" We'll tell you who: winemakers! Because of our close proximity to several hundred wineries, we often get winemakers visiting our brewery. (After all, it takes a lot of great beer to make great wine!) Because we use 100% Brettanomyces yeast to ferment Sanctification, most winemakers will only smell the glass, and only a very few will venture to taste the beer. They think the Brettanomyces will attach to their clothing and end up in their winery. A simple solution was offered: keep a smudge pot burning at the door of our brewery so they can burn their clothes when exiting, but even that was not enough. After giving it more thought, we concluded that winemakers think Brettanomyces might scar their taste buds and possible even permeate their skin? Either way, Sanctification is one of the most unique beers you will ever taste! It is fermented with 100% Brettanomyces, rather than the traditional Saccharomyces. 6.25%ABV / 1.060 O.G / 27 BUs Available rotationally in the pub, and rotationally in 750mL cork finished bottles.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


That's what everyone seems to be, even in this podunk town of ours.

We went down to LA Saturday and came back Tuesday and are worn little nubbins. Wyatt had a pretty productive diabetes check up Monday. We are going to start the ball rolling and get an insulin pump, which is basically a beeper sized external pancreas. We'll still need to do 2,000 or so glucose checks (involving finger sticks) a year for a few years, but we can skip the 1,500 shots and do about 300something instead. It will mean that we can work towards reducing Wyatt's A1c averages (a good thing).

The gastro check up was canceled because of illness, and I didn't handle the news well. I just kind of zoned out at the hospital and felt a bit overwhelmed. It means that I'll probably be taking the boy down on a Monday for a Tuesday appointment and drive back. 10+ hours of driving in little over 24 hours for a 15 minute appointment.

I was being selfish. Oh well. Luckily, we came home from LA to a wonderful hot lasagna (thanks Janet) and tamales (thanks girls!) and an emptied dishwasher (thanks Michelle).

And today's a better day already.

My list of gratitude goes here:
  • We did not get sideswiped by that really fast white car on Hollywood Blvd.
  • We did not get into any rain related accidents, even though we saw heaps of them.
  • We beat the road closure home.
  • We are not fighting a big or terminal disease, like so many families who use CHLA are.
  • The Santa CHLA provided was vintage and lovely, not cheeseball.
  • I have a lovely aunt and cousin who house and feed us when we are in LA.
  • The espresso drinks at Intelligentsia on Sunset are getting better and better.
  • Matt and I like Silver Lake/Los Feliz. Just as well CHLA is there.
  • There was a Swiss Mont D'or Vacherin at the Silver Lake Cheeseshop.
  • Wyatt is a typical almost four year old dude and lacks no self confidence.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My husband has embraced his inner redneck

Matty bought a dirtbike. He is 38 and this is only the second vehicle he's ever owned. He only rode around on a motorcycle for the first time a few weeks ago.

He is not a rash guy. He's an engineer. He's been wanting to get into the mountains more. He helps with and encourages all the shows I want to do. I reckoned that him buying a used dirtbike was easier than him having an affair or other midlife crisis. :)

The Schoberlews are not big spenders. As the exchequer of the house, I would have preferred that he bought it after property taxes were all said and done, but besides the mortgages on the house we live in ($840 a month) and the rentals ($2600, covered by the rent, as long as the units are rented) and $20,000 in a home equity loan that went towards the remodel we did when the boy was born, we have no debt.

So with that, Matty's going to embrace his inner redneck. Long may he ride.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Damned pink eye

Missing a cousin's birthday gathering and feeling like crap because of a cold that settled in my sinuses and then eyes. This is me all cleaned up too.
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Getting to the last of my treasured Pino Meat Pies

Troy and Dulcie and Solomon will always have a special place in my heart. They nourished us with their pies!
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

the laundry list of medical curiosities

  • It was a year ago today that Wyatt got diagnosed with diabetes...and what a year! 2,000+ blood glucose tests and some 1,500 shots later, we are starting to get our heads around the disease.
  • I have a raging case of pink eye.
  • I saw Dr. Perry, one of my two surgeons, yesterday and he gave me the go ahead to wait until late spring to have my angle plate removed from my left hip (I have some concerts to put on and some skiing to do) and until fall to have my second femoral rotational osteotomy. He was rather pleased with the x-rays of my hip.
  • On Monday, we go see Wyatt's endocrinologist at Childrens Hospital LA.
  • On Tuesday, we see Wyatt's GERD nurse practitioner at Childrens Hospital LA.
  • Genevieve seems to be squeezing out her baby boy today.*
  • It was also a year ago today that Karen nearly killed herself by allergic reaction to something...on AT's birthday!

*It appears that G labored for 30 hours before they gave her a C-section. Many thoughts for a speedy recovery.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Keeping up Miss Silvia and 1st Line Coffee

Our Rancilio Miss Silvia espresso machine is nearing its second birthday. Forget all you think about Italian engineering, ours is near god damned perfect. We both pull one to two shots a morning, every morning.

The only thing that has happened so far is that the chrome on the group head (where the portafilter - the cup that holds the coffee grounds- sits) shield has bubbled and flaked. The machine was out of warranty when I inquired with the retailer, 1st Line out of New York. They had never heard of the problem but resolved to get us a replacement piece at no cost. It did take months for this to happen, but it happened.

Turns out, the shield is nothing more than chromed plastic. Matt reckons that it is out of necessity, so that the operator doesn't burn him or herself.

Here's to more and more years with the mistress.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A ray of morning sunshine

Now, if he could shoot out a Fender Passport PA and world peace, that'd be super peachy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Silly fantasy fluff goes here

I have started to play Lotto. For $1-2 a week, I can entertain myself with thoughts of what I'd do with all that ungodly amount of money. I don't fantasize about the good things I could do. I fantasize about my rock and roll promoter ambitions. So, this is how I would spend some of the money:

  • Buy a Fender Passport Portable PA and generator so I could do wee concerts outside, guerrilla style.
  • Jack the house up and excavate us a basement that could be used as a music venue/dancehall.
  • Put on a mini festival featuring those NZers the Mutton Birds, SJD, and the Phoenix Foundation in Golden Bay's Mussel Inn.
  • Buy a Mercedes 15 seater transit van that bands could use to tour the States.
Silly, I know.

It is a diversion from the headlines I have been reading re: Mumbai. The picture of distraught 2 year old Moshe Holtzberg, who lost his parents, was so very sad.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A scare and goodbye Tristan

We went and saw Tristan (insert flamboyant, lovely, sweet and kind man here - oh, and if you are into that sort of thing- handsome as in a hippie dreadlocked way) off tonight.

Wyatt had a low because I didn't factor his being with his favorite woman in the whole wide world (5 year old Estreya) before giving him his dose of insulin. I dosed correctly for the food, but the adrenaline drove his blood sugars way, way down. Matt and I saw for the first time what a diabetic "low" looks like. It's not pretty. Imagine your three year old stumbling around a restaurant parking lot and drinking juice out of a juice box like it was mana/ambrosia/cold clear water dripping from the sky.

He is fine now. Thank God for juice boxes in cars.

Tristan and his girlfriend, Carrie, were lovely additions to town. I will miss them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Wheels Good*

I love my new bike and have been getting out most days for at least half an hour. I am glad I went for the flat handle bars because I would have just spent my rides kneeing myself in my beer belly with regular roadbike handle bars.

I got 2 flats on Saturday and I was rather crabby about it all. Must avoid those goatheads (spiky spurs that grow alongside the road) and must stock up on spare tubes and patch kits.

*Maybe only SC will get this, but the alternative title to this could have been Steven McQueen. I was really sad to hear that PMcA is also going deaf.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Babbo is "my special little guy"

I know I am not the world's most natural mother. I cried when I found out I was pregnant, and they were not tears of joy (We figured it would take us forever to get preggars, not just one or two tries). I am often at a loss at how to play with a very active three year old. I don't deal with tantrums well.

Lately, though, I've realized that Wyatt has entered a golden age. He is cooperative. He is kind. He is helpful. He is "my special little guy."* He loves Altered Images. He loves the Mutton Birds. He loves books. He is learning his letters and their sounds at breakneck speed. He is getting a lovely sense of humor.

He is so engaged, and so am I.

*Yes, the Simpsons are my role models.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008


I believe that it was a year ago today that I had my femur bone sawn in half, my lower leg rotated in by 20 degrees, and the whole thing pinned back together with a few screws and a right angle flat pin.

I am going for a quick bike ride before the weather rolls in. Three cheers.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ups and downs

Let us keep that wonderful new President Elect of ours safe and sound. He has a lot to do. I was impressed with McCain's concession speech. I wish that was McCain who ran.

Here in California, we like those chickens lots more than people it seems. Jerry Brown, whose current incarnation is our Attorney General, says the marriages will stand. The girls are headed down to the Independence Courthouse right now to get a copy of their license.

I was in a bit of a funk all morning until the girls came over to pick up their car, Charlotte (a fine night was had by many in Downtown Bishop last night). They were happy. They were still married. We were all proud that at least 2,846 of us in Inyo County - a full 40 percent- were not homophobes. We will revisit this issue again.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Songs of love

Shout out to AT's Marv and Grannie for coming.
Shout out to the Divine Comedy's "Father Ted" themesong.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I'll be the one with a box of tissues

(mostly ripped off from a post I left at the ever interesting and meditative kubla kong blog - because I had to talk about it)

On Monday, my husband and I will be witnesses to AT and Karen's marriage. It, falling on November 3 (the day before Californians decide on Prop 8), will be a wee hasty/shotgun/guerrilla affair - a secular, but heartfelt gathering off the back of a pickup truck in the high desert.

Neither bride will be wearing white, but the champagne will be cold, and Nick Cave, Lucinda Williams, and the Phoenix Foundation will be on the truck stereo.

After 12 years together, our friends decided that this was what they wanted. We are honored to support them. I am only sorry that their right to marry or not to marry is even an issue.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A meme

My first. The woman formerly known as BFH (insert rude words :)) but now known as Rock Candy Mountain with Whiskey Streams tagged me and now I am to talk about Seven Things About Me That You Probably Didn't Know. So, here goes:

  • I was bulimic from 13ish to 15ish. The last puke had its own soundtrack as Blondie was on KROQ singing Accidents Never Happen (in a perfect world). As a result of my years of puking, I can puke on cue.
  • Even though I have swum with large reef sharks, I am still very, very afraid of sharks.
  • At 40, I am still afraid of the dark and of ghosts.
  • I have only recently learned to eat sushi and sashimi.
  • I was 28 before I chundered (Aussie slang for got sick from drinking - as in the Men at Work song Down Under, "where women glow and men chunder.").
  • I sincerely wish to come to some understanding of/with my dad before we leave this mortal coil. It may or may not happen.
  • I weep very easily.

Monday, October 27, 2008

We are a proud, proud lot

and I laugh because I'm sure that we are very, very annoying.

We live in a godforsaken place, hot as hell in the summer and colder than a witch's tit in winter, nearly four hours from a real airport, and over four hours from great cheap ethnic food.

If you have a heart attack, you'd better have good insurance, because you're going to get airlifted out of here. Same goes if you go into labor before your 37th week. That, or you just need to be a superboy or girl.

We pay a premium for every consumer good we buy, and our housing isn't any cheaper than a lot of urban areas.

Yet for all this, we are a proud, proud lot. We fiercely defend the honor of our harsh landscape and berate anybody who doesn't find it one of the most beautiful places on earth*.

We parade our grizzled, cancerous skin and gnarled feet like banners and badges.

We talk about how the friends we have here are like minded crazies, who turned their backs on comfortable lives, great incomes, consumerist culture, and endless commutes on freeways.

We mourn each other's losses and cheer each other's wins against The Man. We're always up for a random hike, bikeride, or ski. And for dessert, we're always up for a shot of single malt or bourbon, or cuppa tea.

* that one was for you, Diane. Remember when my sister in law tried to pick a fight with you about the Valley being the most beautiful place on earth? And I'm not saying that friends in the big city are consumerist robots. It's just that we have to poo poo the big city to justify our lives out here in the dirt.

Houston, we have recontact

with Blink Jorgensen, who runs the mighty A Low Hum and who is bringing Disasteradio through the States next spring.

Disasteradio inspires Awesome Feelings and more:

If the weather is good, I want to host a guerrilla potluck and gig on the high desert floor- leaving no trace and all that. With as many babies coming online around Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year, it might mean that folks with infants can come and remember that they were young once.

In other recontact news, we saw Graham last night. He left for Alabama and Georgia 22 months ago. He is as beautiful and funny and exotic (he's Southern, afterall) as ever. The good news is that he's going to split his time between Cabbagetown near downtown Atlanta and Bishop. It appears that you can leave the Valley, but the Valley never really leaves you.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Luke Buda's first single off his new release, Vesuvius

For folks who were at the Bishop Phoenix Foundation show, you might recognize Luke Buda as the fella who sang Purple Rain at the end.

Despite the cheery gloss of the tune, there is a deeper melancholy (melancholic?) streak in most of Luke's lyrics which makes a certain fan in Atlanta worry about his Middle European psyche.

The track is called My Imminent Demise. :)

Luke, along with so many other great artists, is on Arch Hill.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The passage of certain nicknames

Babbo is outgrowing certain nicknames he's had for years. Namely, he's no longer Sucky Sucky Parasite and becoming less of a Midget and more of a Dude. It kind of makes me sad.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Some bastard hit the Sierra Phantom

The Sierra Phantom is my homey. He lives a block away from here, and he always has a smile for me when we pass each other on our bikes. Thankfully, he is a tough man and will be okay. Thanks for the coverage, Tom.


Hit and Run Accident Sends the "Phantom" to Hospital
Written by Tom Woods
Monday, 20 October 2008

The well known Bishop fishing guide and glitter fly manufacturer known as “the Sierra Phantom,” was hit by car while riding his bicycle near Pleasant Valley reservoir on Friday night.

Highway Patrol Officers report that a vehicle sideswiped the Phantom, also known as J.P. Glover, causing the bicyclist to lose control. The driver left the scene, and despite a “extensive search,” officers were unable to find the suspect vehicle.

When we called Glover, he said that after he was sideswiped he went over the handle bars. He says he was on the side of the road for about a half an hour before a “couple of guys,” found him and called the ambulance.

Phantom had injuries to his ribs and lungs, a dislocated shoulder, the skin taken off his nose and knees. He was in pain when we spoke with him Monday, but his spirits were high. He says that his friends are looking out for him.

This was the third time he has been hit by a car in three years. The first time he was hit while riding a bike was in front of Giggle Springs. With little room for people on bicycles on Main Street and people not paying attention to bicycles, he says one person killed or hurt is too many.

Despite the injuries, Glover was confident of a fast recovery. He says that after a very long and serious series of cancer operations, the doctors told him that he wouldn’t be able to do anything for four months. A week later, he says that he walked from Bishop to South Lake and back to go fishing. With luck, the Phantom will soon be back out at one of his usual Main Street haunts, or on the river with his line in water.

the Itchy and Scratchy Show

I cleared tomato plants from the garden yesterday, 40someodd of them. Gave some perennials a quick haircut for winter and broke out in a quick itchy rash that went away when I finally had a shower.

It was a crap tomato year for everyone. It started very late and was not superproductive. I do believe that heirloom/open pollinated yields are not as high as superkillerhybrid yields, but I am not fond of most hybrids.

Lynne's Black Cherry was a tasty wonder, even if the plants fought early blight. They had the flavor of a Black Brandywine without the wait. Zapotec did not like my yard and the fruit leathered on the vine.

Green tomatillos have taken over a few of my beds. Be careful of where you compost leftover green salsa. T.T. has found good use for the tomatillos, thankfully, and we have some nice relish to go with our carnitas tacos today.

Dad and his lovely friend Natalie took Wyatt fishing Saturday. Natalie has two grandsons with diabetes and was the guardian of one for 8 years. She was great. She asked all the right questions and asked for the right diabetes gear. Hopefully my Dad learned a bit. Wyatt had a great time landing "RAINBOW TROUT!" and we had a great time going out to lunch with Matt's old high school best friend and going out to Auntie Genevieve/Auntie Shauna's Baby-Q potluck. It was a great break from active parenting.

In other news, I have been pitching to and wooing Kiwi bands, labels, and handlers. Bless good ol' Ben Howe at Arch Hill. He is an old Flying Nun artist (Superette) and hosts the marvelous Don McGlashan and Luke Buda (among others) on Arch Hill. Have also pitched to Loop Recordings, the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, and WIUO/Don McG's Manager. Thanks to Bibi and Lynne for being my daily sounding boards on these matters and to Steve for the encouragement from the muso's perspective and to Karen and Matty and Diane for the general "go for it-ness" of it all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lars and the Real Girl

I admit I was touched. It was a small, gentle film about how the right kind of family and community help a broken boy-man start to become an adult and possibly whole.

Maybe because I am a Nat King Cole fan, I especially loved this scene (Genevieve, don't look)

I also admit that I had only seen crap or schmaltzy Ryan Gosling films on long transatlantic flights or 14 hour bus rides across Argentina, but I always liked him.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I fear my Obama sign's days are numbered

I would love to be wrong.
My 2004 Kerry-Edwards lasted about a week before somebody ripped it down. When I called the local Dems to get a new sign, they said it was happening all over town.

I took Babbo to an Obama rally last Saturday. We sat on the City Park wall. I held a sign. Many many folks honked in support. Thankfully, nobody flipped us off or cussed us out. It did happen to a few others. I reckon that you'd have to be a pretty huge scumbag to flip off a three year old kid.

It was good to see my Subaru/Toyota/Honda driving, down jacket wearing, bluegrass listening, agnostic/atheist, but "spiritual" parenting brethren all gathered in one spot.

It has turned into such an ugly election.

Some women with Yes on 8 placards held down the corner at Main and Short. Their signs said something to the effect that 8 saved families. Huh? Whatever. A "yes" on 8 would eliminate same-sex couples' right to marry in California

In related news, A.T., who'd just gotten justice of the peace deputized, married a whole bunch of women wanting to get married before November 4th. Bless her. If folks really want to join the ball and chain fray, more power to them.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Because scheming is still free.....
  • I would really like to work on another Kiwi-Owens Valley musical production. I'm hoping to hit some bands on their way to/from South by Southwest next March.
  • I would really like to get back to NZ for the summer music festival season. This isn't going to happen unless Bibi or I win some contests we've entered. :)
  • I would like to put off the second femoral osteotomy for another year. I'm just not psyched about being laid up for weeks and weeks on disability when economic times will only get tougher, when there are things to do, when there are bands to court. I wouldn't mind getting this angle plate in my old hip out, though. I could use another bottle opener. :)
  • A good drink. The lurgy is almost over, and I will partake in a glass of champy (1996 Piper Heidsieck Blue Diamante Monopole blah blah) tonight. Thank you Zach for that awfully fancy bottle for simply turning 40.
  • The new SJD, Luke Buda, Conrad Wedde, etc. releases.

In other news, I was sad to see that there was a fatal crash at Lukla Airstrip in Nepal. We used it in 1996, and it was a thrill ride to say the least. It's angled so that landing planes can use the uphill ride to stop and that departing planes can use the downhill ride to get the momentum to take off - right before the abyss. Edmund Hillary helped build the first strip, which was just pounded dirt. There was chang (a local liquor) for everyone and dancing all night. How else do you get folks to pound on dirt?

Matty just reminded me that the landing strip was still dirt in '96.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Gazpacho sin barbiturates

It is Fall/Autumn and we are making batches and batches of gazpacho in honor of the season. With our freezing mornings, the tomatoes are very nearly done.

I cannot think of "gathpacho" without thinking of the scene in Women of the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown where Carmen Maura, playing the leading lady, tells the detectives of all the trouble she's been up to and tells them that they are partaking in gazpacho laced with barbiturates.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Another Bush Administration Guantanamo case bites the dust

Judge orders release of Chinese Muslims into US

By HOPE YEN – 34 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge ordered the Bush administration Tuesday to immediately free 17 Chinese Muslims from Guantanamo Bay into the United States, a dramatic ruling that could set the course for releasing dozens of other prisoners at the naval facility in Cuba.

The Bush administration announced plans to ask an appeals court to block the order, calling it a threat to national security and contrary to federal laws.

"Today's ruling presents serious national security and separation of powers concerns and raises unprecedented legal issues," Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.

In a stern rebuke of the government, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina said it would be wrong to continue holding the detainees since they are no longer considered enemy combatants. Known as Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurz), the men have been in custody for nearly seven years.

Over the objections of government lawyers, Urbina ordered their release in Washington D.C. by Friday. It was the first court-ordered release of Guantanamo detainees since the prison camp opened in 2002.

"Because the Constitution prohibits indefinite detentions without cause, the continued detention is unlawful," Urbina said, prompting cheers and applause from local Uighur residents and human rights activists who packed into the courtroom.

Urbina, who was appointed to the bench by President Clinton, also ordered a hearing next week to decide where the Uighurs should be permanently settled. Until then, members of the Uighur community in the Washington area agreed to sponsor and help care for them.

"I think the moment has arrived for the court to shine the light of constitutionality on the reasons for the detention," he said.

Urbina said once the detainees arrived in Washington, they would be free to move around unsupervised, drawing the surprise of government attorneys who suggested that immigration officials might act to take the men into custody upon their arrival.

That prompted an angry response from the judge, who said he would not "take kindly" to such a government move. "That would be inappropriate," Urbina said. "There is a pressing need to have these people, who have been incarcerated for seven years, to have those conditions changed."

Roehrkasse said the government's appeal of Urbina's ruling was prompted by security concerns over the weapons training the Uighurs received at camps in Afghanistan. "The government does not believe that it is appropriate to have these foreign nationals removed from government custody and released into the United States," Roehrkasse said.

At the White House, press secretary Dana Perino said the decision "is contrary to our laws, including federal immigration statutes passed by Congress."

Perino said if Urbina's ruling is not reversed, it "could be used as precedent for other detainees at Guantanamo Bay, including sworn enemies of the United States suspected of planning the attacks" of Sept. 11, 2001, to seek release into the U.S.

At issue is whether a federal judge has the authority to order the release of Guantanamo prisoners who were unlawfully detained by the U.S. and cannot be sent back to their homeland. The Uighurs, who are Turkic-speaking Muslims in western China, have been cleared for release from Guantanamo since 2004 and ordinarily would have been sent home.

Wang Baodong, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, reiterated Beijing's argument that the Uighurs are terror suspects and should be returned to China. "We ask the U.S. side to take into serious consideration of the repeated requests of the Chinese side, and handle the issue in a prudent way so as not to further harm their bilateral cooperation on combating international terrorism," Wang said.

The Bush administration has refused to turn the Uighurs over to China because they might be tortured. The Bush administration says it has found no other country is willing to accept them. Albania accepted five Uighur detainees in 2006 but has since balked on taking others, partly for fear of diplomatic repercussions from China.

Uighurs are from Xinjiang — an isolated region that borders Afghanistan, Pakistan and six Central Asian nations — and say they have been repressed by the Chinese government. China has long said that insurgents are leading an Islamic separatist movement in Xinjiang. The Uighur detainees were captured in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2001.

Urbina's decision has broader implications for the future of the Guantanamo prison, which the Bush administration has said it wants to shut down after "working with other countries to take people back under the right circumstances."

A federal judge is set later this month to hold hearings on other Guantanamo prisoners challenging their detention as so-called enemy combatants.

Roughly 20 percent of about 250 detainees who remain at the military prison fear torture or persecution if they return to their home countries, according to the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights. Their concerns raise similar questions as to where they should go if other countries refuse to take them. The U.S. has long maintained they should stay at Guantanamo.

"How many times does the Bush administration need to be told that detainees are entitled to essential rights? All the remaining detainees in Guantanamo Bay must be either charged and tried or released immediately," said Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA.

The Bush administration has argued that a federal judge cannot order the release of a foreign-born detainee into the U.S., saying that would undercut immigration laws that dictate how foreigners are brought into the country.

Until a country accepts the Uighurs, they would stay in special Guantanamo housing that includes TVs, air-conditioning and recreational items such as soccer, table tennis and volleyball, government attorneys said.

O'Quinn also said federal judges should defer to the executive branch officials, who he said must consider delicate relations with China. "The court should be circumspect because of the potential for interference with foreign relations," O'Quinn said.

Sabin Willett, an attorney for the Uighurs, countered: "I've never heard anyone argue our relations with other nations are a basis for holding someone."

Rebia Kadeer, president of the World Uighur Congress, called the decision a victory for oppressed Uighurs in China.

"This is our destiny. This is our people's win. This concerns our freedom. China accuses us of being terrorists, but we are not," she said through a translator as other Uighurs in the courtroom cried for joy.

Emi MacLean, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said she hoped the decision would encourage other foreign countries to take in Guantanamo detainees who have not been charged.

"Finally, we are beginning the process of taking responsibility for our mistakes and fixing them," she said. "Allowing these wrongfully detained men a fresh start would also provide the U.S. a fresh start — an opportunity to turn a page and finally take a position of leadership in closing Guantanamo."

CHLA is our friend

Had a bonzai run down to Children's Hospital LA. It was our second visit in two weeks, but this time it was for a diabetes check up.

I stuck Wyatt on the Ipod (Caillou, CBC programming) and while he was mostly quiet, he did lose the plot when I pulled the earphones off to make him pay attention or to be sociable. I swore I'd never be one of those electronic-devices-dependent parents, but Jesus God, this beats having him eat his Cheerios off the floor or lick the doctor's chair. And, it allows us to have a conversation with the doctor which is not punctuated by the stream of consciousness ramblings of a VERY LOUD THREE YEAR OLD BOY.

His A1C level is coming down. It went from 8.5 in May to 7.5 in October. Three cheers! The A1C is an indicator of how high his blood sugars have averaged over the last three months.

Dr. Jeandron is great. She is busy, but makes time to answer questions, to look us in the eye, to make us feel confident. She said we could switch to the insulin pump when we were ready because as far as she was concerned, we're ready. We'll probably save that for next year.

The nurses at CHLA are amazing. They fine tune and problem solve and call you right back when you need them to. They are no-nonsense but encouraging. They are your like your favorite aunts.

I got to squeeze in two of my Chinese food trifecta, Mandarin Deli and Sam Wo's BBQ. I got to give Auntie Tammy a hug on the day she got baptized (my funny and fierce Auntie Tammy - we will never see eye to eye on God or politics, but she one of the best people I know).

Even though the boy and I were both a bit delirious when we rolled into Bishop last night (We started yelling "Beeeeeeee-shopppppppp......"), it was a productive trip.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thanks Lauren for making us have a look at this

When Atheists Attack

A noted provocateur rips Sarah Palin—and defends elitism.
Sam Harris
From the magazine issue dated Sep 29, 2008

Let me confess that I was genuinely unnerved by Sarah Palin's performance at the Republican convention. Given her audience and the needs of the moment, I believe Governor Palin's speech was the most effective political communication I have ever witnessed. Here, finally, was a performer who—being maternal, wounded, righteous and sexy—could stride past the frontal cortex of every American and plant a three-inch heel directly on that limbic circuit that ceaselessly intones "God and country." If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could.

Then came Palin's first television interview with Charles Gibson. I was relieved to discover, as many were, that Palin's luster can be much diminished by the absence of a teleprompter. Still, the problem she poses to our political process is now much bigger than she is. Her fans seem inclined to forgive her any indiscretion short of cannibalism. However badly she may stumble during the remaining weeks of this campaign, her supporters will focus their outrage upon the journalist who caused her to break stride, upon the camera operator who happened to capture her fall, upon the television network that broadcast the good lady's misfortune—and, above all, upon the "liberal elites" with their highfalutin assumption that, in the 21st century, only a reasonably well-educated person should be given command of our nuclear arsenal.

The point to be lamented is not that Sarah Palin comes from outside Washington, or that she has glimpsed so little of the earth's surface (she didn't have a passport until last year), or that she's never met a foreign head of state. The point is that she comes to us, seeking the second most important job in the world, without any intellectual training relevant to the challenges and responsibilities that await her. There is nothing to suggest that she even sees a role for careful analysis or a deep understanding of world events when it comes to deciding the fate of a nation. In her interview with Gibson, Palin managed to turn a joke about seeing Russia from her window into a straight-faced claim that Alaska's geographical proximity to Russia gave her some essential foreign-policy experience. Palin may be a perfectly wonderful person, a loving mother and a great American success story—but she is a beauty queen/sports reporter who stumbled into small-town politics, and who is now on the verge of stumbling into, or upon, world history.

The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin's lack of intellectual qualifications. When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. "They think they're better than you!" is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. "Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!" Yes, all too ordinary.

We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter's microphone, saying things like, "I'm voting for Sarah because she's a mom. She knows what it's like to be a mom." Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

Palin's most conspicuous gaffe in her interview with Gibson has been widely discussed. The truth is, I didn't much care that she did not know the meaning of the phrase "Bush doctrine." And I am quite sure that her supporters didn't care, either. Most people view such an ambush as a journalistic gimmick. What I do care about are all the other things Palin is guaranteed not to know—or will be glossing only under the frenzied tutelage of John McCain's advisers. What doesn't she know about financial markets, Islam, the history of the Middle East, the cold war, modern weapons systems, medical research, environmental science or emerging technology? Her relative ignorance is guaranteed on these fronts and most others, not because she was put on the spot, or got nervous, or just happened to miss the newspaper on any given morning. Sarah Palin's ignorance is guaranteed because of how she has spent the past 44 years on earth.

I care even more about the many things Palin thinks she knows but doesn't: like her conviction that the Biblical God consciously directs world events. Needless to say, she shares this belief with mil-lions of Americans—but we shouldn't be eager to give these people our nuclear codes, either. There is no question that if President McCain chokes on a spare rib and Palin becomes the first woman president, she and her supporters will believe that God, in all his majesty and wisdom, has brought it to pass. Why would God give Sarah Palin a job she isn't ready for? He wouldn't. Everything happens for a reason. Palin seems perfectly willing to stake the welfare of our country—even the welfare of our species—as collateral in her own personal journey of faith. Of course, McCain has made the same unconscionable wager on his personal journey to the White House.

In speaking before her church about her son going to war in Iraq, Palin urged the congregation to pray "that our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God; that's what we have to make sure we are praying for, that there is a plan, and that plan is God's plan." When asked about these remarks in her interview with Gibson, Palin successfully dodged the issue of her religious beliefs by claiming that she had been merely echoing the words of Abraham Lincoln. The New York Times later dubbed her response "absurd." It was worse than absurd; it was a lie calculated to conceal the true character of her religious infatuations. Every detail that has emerged about Palin's life in Alaska suggests that she is as devout and literal-minded in her Christian dogmatism as any man or woman in the land. Given her long affiliation with the Assemblies of God church, Palin very likely believes that Biblical prophecy is an infallible guide to future events and that we are living in the "end times." Which is to say she very likely thinks that human history will soon unravel in a foreordained cataclysm of war and bad weather. Undoubtedly Palin believes that this will be a good thing—as all true Christians will be lifted bodily into the sky to make merry with Jesus, while all nonbelievers, Jews, Methodists and other rabble will be punished for eternity in a lake of fire. Like many Pentecostals, Palin may even imagine that she and her fellow parishioners enjoy the power of prophecy themselves. Otherwise, what could she have meant when declaring to her congregation that "God's going to tell you what is going on, and what is going to go on, and you guys are going to have that within you"?

You can learn something about a person by the company she keeps. In the churches where Palin has worshiped for decades, parishioners enjoy "baptism in the Holy Spirit," "miraculous healings" and "the gift of tongues." Invariably, they offer astonishingly irrational accounts of this behavior and of its significance for the entire cosmos. Palin's spiritual colleagues describe themselves as part of "the final generation," engaged in "spiritual warfare" to purge the earth of "demonic strongholds." Palin has spent her entire adult life immersed in this apocalyptic hysteria. Ask yourself: Is it a good idea to place the most powerful military on earth at her disposal? Do we actually want our leaders thinking about the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy when it comes time to say to the Iranians, or to the North Koreans, or to the Pakistanis, or to the Russians or to the Chinese: "All options remain on the table"?

It is easy to see what many people, women especially, admire about Sarah Palin. Here is a mother of five who can see the bright side of having a child with Down syndrome and still find the time and energy to govern the state of Alaska. But we cannot ignore the fact that Palin's impressive family further testifies to her dogmatic religious beliefs. Many writers have noted the many shades of conservative hypocrisy on view here: when Jamie Lynn Spears gets pregnant, it is considered a symptom of liberal decadence and the breakdown of family values; in the case of one of Palin's daughters, however, teen pregnancy gets reinterpreted as a sign of immaculate, small-town fecundity. And just imagine if, instead of the Palins, the Obama family had a pregnant, underage daughter on display at their convention, flanked by her black boyfriend who "intends" to marry her. Who among conservatives would have resisted the temptation to speak of "the dysfunction in the black community"?

Teen pregnancy is a misfortune, plain and simple. At best, it represents bad luck (both for the mother and for the child); at worst, as in the Palins' case, it is a symptom of religious dogmatism. Governor Palin opposes sex education in schools on religious grounds. She has also fought vigorously for a "parental consent law" in the state of Alaska, seeking full parental dominion over the reproductive decisions of minors. We know, therefore, that Palin believes that she should be the one to decide whether her daughter carries her baby to term. Based on her stated position, we know that she would deny her daughter an abortion even if she had been raped. One can be forgiven for doubting whether Bristol Palin had all the advantages of 21st-century family planning—or, indeed, of the 21st century.

We have endured eight years of an administration that seemed touched by religious ideology. Bush's claim to Bob Woodward that he consulted a "higher Father" before going to war in Iraq got many of us sitting upright, before our attention wandered again to less ethereal signs of his incompetence. For all my concern about Bush's religious beliefs, and about his merely average grasp of terrestrial reality, I have never once thought that he was an over-the-brink, Rapture-ready extremist. Palin seems as though she might be the real McCoy. With the McCain team leading her around like a pet pony between now and Election Day, she can be expected to conceal her religious extremism until it is too late to do anything about it. Her supporters know that while she cannot afford to "talk the talk" between now and Nov. 4, if elected, she can be trusted to "walk the walk" until the Day of Judgment.

What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. Watching her deny to Gibson that she had ever harbored the slightest doubt about her readiness to take command of the world's only superpower, one got the feeling that Palin would gladly assume any responsibility on earth:

"Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

"Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

"But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."

"That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."

The prospects of a Palin administration are far more frightening, in fact, than those of a Palin Institute for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.

I believe that with the nomination of Sarah Palin for the vice presidency, the silliness of our politics has finally put our nation at risk. The world is growing more complex—and dangerous—with each passing hour, and our position within it growing more precarious. Should she become president, Palin seems capable of enacting policies so detached from the common interests of humanity, and from empirical reality, as to unite the entire world against us. When asked why she is qualified to shoulder more responsibility than any person has held in human history, Palin cites her refusal to hesitate. "You can't blink," she told Gibson repeatedly, as though this were a primordial truth of wise governance. Let us hope that a President Palin would blink, again and again, while more thoughtful people decide the fate of civilization.

Harris is a founder of The Reason Project and author of The New York Times best sellers “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation.” His Web site is samharris.org.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Party lurgy

I brought home the lurgy from Buenos Aires and have a pretty bad cough. I just now realized that I haven't gone past the driveway in seven whole days. I have laryngitis and I am loathe to talk.

Still, I don't want for company. Motorcycle Michelle, Matty, Karen, AT, etc. organized a birthday bash for me last Sunday and nearly 50 folks turned up in the spirit of Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Women embraced their inner bad girls and looked like a Hollywood dream. Michelle set up her movie screen and showed said film in the backyard. AT and Mixologist Michelle held down the bar and made cocktails with St. Germaine, the elderflower liqueur. It was neat!

Mixologist Michelle has moved into the trailer for a wee while. Sniffy Mark is visiting from the Bay Area because he had to install his show at the Inyo Council for the Arts. It's mule packers' stories told in ceramics and haiku in a joint collaboration between Mark and Matty's Dad, Walter.

Life back at home, even from the view of the couch, is still pretty eventful.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Our own private 2001

In Argentina, everyone we met to a person, was deeply marked by the country's economic crisis of 2001. Shopkeepers hoarded small change to the point that they would rather not make a sale than have to part with it. Turn up with a 100 peso note ($33), and you were like a leper everywhere except for the largest of hypersupermarkets or fancy restaurants. Turn up with a 2 peso note (75 cents) even, and depending on the circumstance, you could be turned away. We entered a society where even the smallest of coins could be trusted as real currency, but the bigger stuff was held in suspicion.

It looks like 2008 will be the United States' own private 2001. On a personal level, I worry for friends, family, ourselves, but on the whole, it is probably the ass kicking we needed. Much of the decade has been about living well beyond ones' means and living as if the bubble would never burst. I am grateful that the only debt we have are our mortgages - yes, I did say it in the plural. We bought Matt's Mom's house and office last year. We stopped contributing to our IRAs (but still contribute to our employers' retirement programs) so that we could have a wee bigger stake in the town we love so much. We are grateful that the rental market in Bishop is pretty stable....

Friday, September 26, 2008

Back to reality

Back home and back to work - less of it, though. Matty was told right before the holiday that staff would be cut to 3/4 time. The civil engineering industry is dependent on construction and that industry has been in the pits for a while now.

We are assessing our budget and barring a nasty surprise, we'll be fine. Fewer fancy kegs, no Marianne to help us clean house twice a month, no going crazy when the Schwanns' man comes, and we'll be okay.

Some friends are facing big changes and we try to help when we can. Hanging out around our kitchen table is still free, thankfully.

The first presidential debate is tonight. I think most folks have decided. Sarah Palin frightens the crap out of me. Sure, I have many, many days where I have trouble stringing together or finding the right words, but I don't pretend that I could lead a nation. The fact that she isn't perceived as the hack that she is by seemingly half the country disheartens me.

We used to horrify our nonAmerican friends by saying that in light of the last 8 years, we could actually live under a McCain presidency if we had to. I eat my words now. A man married to a woman worth over $100 million who thinks the country is doing fine economically needs a rude wake up call.

In other news, Wyatt handled his flights from Buenos Aires to Washington DC to LA beautifully. We were helped by a half dose of dramamine for part of it. He was also a trooper when we starved him for 13 hours and brought him to Children's Hospital LA for a gastric emptying scan. They let him eat his radioactivated Cheerios and milk for 10 minutes, straightjacketed him from neck to hips, and strapped him to a board. He was strapped for 2 hours while pictures were taken of his stomach and didn't fuss for the first hour and a half. We were lucky because they wheeled a TV over to his gurney, and he watched some Disney pap for most of the test. The results came in the next day and his stomach was....normal! So, the GERD/acid reflux might just be a phase. Let's hope.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ready for action

p.s. Portillo was brilliant. The intermediate runs were just my speed and I got my groove back in the granny style. I wore a knee pad on my hip to keep the angle plate from getting driven into bone in case I fell on it. Matty, Tom, Lesley, and Ray got some of the most epic lift assisted backcountry days (5,000 vertical in the Super C Couloir and 7,000 vertical of corn two days later). The four meals a day were pretty damned tasty. The staff were lovely. I ditched Wyatt with a team of loving twenty something women for a few hours daily. We're saving our funds to get back in a few years.

The chairlift goes right over these switchbacks


Friday, August 22, 2008

Al Bowlly's in Heaven

"and I'm in limbo now."*

I fell in love to Matt to Bowlly's definitive version of Ray Noble's "The Very Thought of You," and hearing it just now made me cry like a little snotty nosed kid. I wonder if Bowlly would derive any comfort in knowing that his phrasing and his voice would still be loved by some (there's a Facebook group for him) over sixty-five years after that fatal parachute mine exploded outside his flat during the Blitz?

I am not in limbo, really. I was prescribed Paxil, an anti-depressant, for my sleeplessness and general anxiety. I decided against starting until after the holiday in South America. I've waited for years for this holiday and I just discovered the Carmenere grape. It would be cruel to have to abstain from wine and Pisco Sours because of the drug. I also reserve the right to never to go Paxil if I can figure out why my anxiety fuse is so short.

And now, a moment of awe for the Great Al Bowlly and Ray Noble:

*Thanks to the Richard Thompson song.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

if Elvis could sing it now

Henry Wyatt Schober: Mommy, that big boy wants to know the name of our neighborhood.
Mommy: Tell him the GHE-tto.
HWS: My mommy says "the ghetto."

Not really and really. It's fun to see the hoards of Europeans staying at the old Starlite Motel walk up the center of our street because a) we don't have sidewalk all the way b) it feels safer.

If I was a tourist, I'd walk up the center of my street. But, I live here, and it's pretty damned safe.

Santa Rita 2006 Carmenere Reserva

from Chile.
@ $12 a bottle.
a gem.

soft tannins, fruit forward, spicy, but still displaying its tobacco and wood notes proudly.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pakistan in the news

Photo from Saturday's Gadling.

Musharraf is out after nine years. I'm surprised he survived as long as he did. Was it time to go? Yes. Was he power hungry? Yes. Was he probably the lesser of many evils? I think so. I don't know, he just didn't strike me as the same kind of unctuous sort who ruled in the Sharif and Bhutto Administrations. There's a reason Bhutto's husband, who now co-represents her PPP party, was known as Mr. Ten Percent (his take of any contract awarded).

In other Pakistan stuff, Matty and I crossed this very bridge 10 years ago. Ironically, the new bridge, which is right of the old bridge, became the useless bridge when they built it with too many slats for footholds. Huge winds came through, and took care of the new bridge overnight.

Also, note the vertical staircase hacked into the face of the wall on the opposite shore.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

We have crossed that imaginary threshold

into the other half of our lives.
I know it's the case because when some friends toasted glasses of something tasty and fizzy to our continued and improving health tonight, it was rather heartfelt.

Matt the pessimist is in the backcountry. Otherwise he would have said something cheeky.

Friday, August 15, 2008

As the monster hit book says, "Everyone Poops"

We had an even better picture of Wyatt reading the New Yorker (his choice), but it had his wee penis in it, and I have to give him *some* respect and privacy. For those of you who know the boy, you'll know he doesn't care who sees his penis (so much so that Joel once said at the table, "Hey, Wyatt, Lynn (his then girlfriend, his now wife) doesn't like turtlenecks!" But, somewhere down the line, the fact that mommy posted wiener pictures wouldn't be so cool.
Posted by Picasa

From today's NY Times

Whilst traveling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, photographer Richard Harrington stumbled upon an abandoned NASA unit in Bishop, Calif.

While traveling from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, the photographer Richard Harrington stumbled upon an abandoned NASA unit in Bishop, Calif.

[I would argue that it's very possible that this NASA trailer isn't in Bishop. Must ask around. Maybe it lives at the Big Ears, where Cal Tech maps outer space. Also, Bishop really isn't on the road to Vegas from LA. At the very least, you will know what relentless sunshine in the Valley can look like.]

post script: Rick who works at the Big Ears confirmed that this trailer is there and reported that it is not abandoned.

Proud Mama

This morning, as we were headed out the door for school, the boy asked, "Mommy, what's your favorite song?" I said it would have to be something from the Mutton Birds, and I asked if he remembered seeing a video featuring some dude on a small drum and some dude singing on a guitar? He said "Hmm" (meaning "yes" in boy). I kind of blew his answer off because he sees a lot of music videos.

I sang the line:

At the hightide line, driftwood and shells...

and lo and frickin' behold, the boy sings:

She's been talking to my friends.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Why I need a nap

I have a hard time getting back to sleep in the middle of the night. The monkey mind takes over and races. So, I think, the next time I see my nurse practitioner, I will ask for a bit of chemical help.

Yes, yes, I did years of yoga and breathing. Deep breathing involuntarily kicks in during the day and sometimes help.

But, I have the personality that rather worries a lot, is easily distracted, and has rather thin skin. Long dark nights seem to exacerbate these traits. I'm hoping that getting a bit more sleep and exercise will help me refocus on what really is important - namely, Wyatt (whose morning glucose numbers are still out of whack), Matt, and me and our lives together.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hamdan might be able to see his family again in his lifetime

Wow, poor, illiterate, 4th grade educated, Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's driver, could theoretically see his family again in five months. I am not holding my breath, but I am pleased for him. Nevermind that we have been holding him illegally for so long and supposedly have the right to continue to do so after he has served the remainder of his sentence. Reading the coverage, the judge and the defense attorney in the case did their jobs and brought a glimpse of humanity to the proceedings. Compared to what Guantanamo now stands for, it almost sounded like a goddamned love fest there today:

[From the New York Times]

During pretrial proceedings, Mr. Hamdan, a father of two daughters in Yemen, and the judge, a career Navy lawyer, had regularly exchanged smiles and, on occasion, chats. Before he left the bench, Judge Allred said a few parting words to the man he had gotten to know in a most unusual way.

“Mr. Hamdan,” Judge Allred said, “I hope the day comes that you are able to return to your wife and daughters and your country.”

“Inshallah,” Mr. Hamdan said in Arabic, before an interpreter gave the English translation of “God willing.”

“Inshallah,” Judge Allred responded.

Inshallah, indeed. (Now, if any of my god fearing Republican family heard this, they would skewer me.)

Sundry gratitude

  • Thanks to Desiree, Tuesdays or Wednesdays are volleyball in the park night. Because I am an old crippled girl, I sit in the sidelines and read the New Yorker or hold babies. The last few times, volleyball has been followed by terribly festive potlucks at the house. Last night, it was too festive, and I shot Woodford bourbon out my nose. Now I know the feeling of snorting fire.
  • The poor boy's blood glucose numbers on the whole are good, but his high morning averages are of concern to us and to his nurse at Childrens'. It could be his stomach doesn't empty fast enough (going back to the GERD symptoms) or it could be he's got a bunch of growth hormones surging in the early morning hours. I am hoping it's the latter. We are trying different fine tunings in the meantime. I saw that one parent of a diabetic named his or her blog "Your diabetes may vary" and it's funny because it's true. At least Wyatt doesn't have Celiac.
  • Wednesdays are 15 percent locals' discount day at Mahogany Smoked Meats, makers and purveyors of perhaps the best streaky bacon in the world. At least, that's what one tomato grower in Ohio, who was crabby that the shop could no longer ship interstate, told me. Old Earl said his BLTs were never the same again.
  • I am very much looking forward to being in South America in less than a month. I am grateful that we can introduce Wyatt to life outside of the Valley which doesn't have anything to do with a suburban shopping mall (the default when we visit certain grandparents). Yes, frequent flier miles are getting harder to redeem, but I turn the whole thing into a big game and plan very far in advance.
  • I am enjoying the sound of song birds out the window...if you can call our garden variety of small singing birds here in California songbirds. I long for a trip back to New Zealand to hear real songbirds.
  • My hips are useless around my menstrual periods. For a few days I can barely walk across the room. But, stairs are not a problem! Biking is not a problem! Skiing is alright! I am psyched that I can do certain things that don't hurt and that the pain isn't (knock wood) constant. I am rather surprised about how philosophical I am about my revised mobility.
  • We are going to Reno tomorrow for my mother in law's auspicious 8-8-08 birthday. Some of us call it the "princess party." Hey, at least my mother in law is healthy enough and enjoying her life up there.

In ungrateful news: I am dragging my heels finishing Graham Greene's "The Heart of the Matter." It is so very well written, but I know it's going to end in tears (sorry, Bibi, I peeked).

Monday, August 04, 2008

First Large Tomato of the Year Award

goes to Black Russian.
It made a stunning BLT. Tart, tangy, salty, juicy.

Unfortunately, going mano a mano with the stink bugs this year. They are poking holes in certain varieties of tomatoes and introducing yellow bacterial spots.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

In the woods*

There was a strange yip yip yipping last night. Because a lot of us live near the edge of town or have lived on ranches, we knew that it was a female coyote trying to tempt the four camp dogs into the meadow. There, if lucky, the males of the pack would kill the dogs. The four dogs were having none of the coyote bitch's siren calls, though, and barked all night. Ugh.

Camp was in the woods this year. A wonderful assortment of over 40 friends and family who braved the fun four wheel drive in (I admit, I found myself leaning heavily to try to "compensate" for the sideways pitch of the road as I drove behind Matty and Kate) to potluck in the Upper Buttermilk, where it is at least 20 degrees cooler than town.

I was tired and crabby with a painful sty the first day. Went to bed early. Mood lifted the second day and enjoyed chatting with folks out of the normal context of the bookstore or coffeebar, our kitchen, or the street. Met or reconnected with three new couples and did my best to do the welcome wagon. It was neat, three of us folks were already connected to Mary, a lovely mother to be who has been in town two weeks. I work with Andrew, who dates Mary's best friend. Mind you, my office and Andrew are in the Bay Area. I only met Andrew for the first and only time (because I telecommute) last June.

Small world, indeed.

* Special shout out to the Woods who spent their weekend in the woods with us.

Friday, August 01, 2008

This year I have mostly been

pulling the ripcord.
Oh dear.

Ah, but must cram in a few streaky bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwiches before I undertake my pennance.

Group camp is happening this weekend in the Upper Buttermilk. Cocktails, potlucks, singalongs. With bear and mountain lion sightings down in Rovana, which isn't too far away, I'm going to keep a closer eye on the boy.

The bear was found dining on somebody's pet goat.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mothra redux

Michelle Pettit found out what Mothra was. It was a Black Witch Moth, or, as the Mexicans call it, Mariposa de la Muerte.

Good thing I'm not that superstitious:

The Spanish name (butterfly of death) comes from a legend that if there is illness in the house and the moth flies in, someone dies. There are other fables surrounding this moth, which may be the largest species of moth in the world.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pukeius Maximus

Wyatt had his first bonafide carsick puke. Bits of hotdog from hours and hours before and all that. Blame me because I asked my dad to drive down to LA. My dad drives in way that makes the car surge and brake in fits and starts. All that to-ing and fro-ing are murder on the head and gut.

Back from a good visit with the Lew and Chow and Hansen (baby Owen is a gorgeous healthy happy Buddha baby) families. Exhausted, though.

The visit to Children's Hospital w/ the Gastroenterology Department was not superproductive, but we got the ball rolling. They nixed the idea of the 24 hour probe down Wyatt's nose and throat and will schedule a dye scan. Luckily, I can try to coordinate the test or the follow up with the Endocrinology Department visits.

It could be that the boy's stomach is not emptying quickly enough. That would explain the hot dogs. Wyatt can be on his Prevacid (a proton pump inhibitor) for up to a year without worry.

Looking forward to using the IPOD Nano we picked up at Costco for the long drives up and down the highway. I was thinking that I could handle four hours of static and Mexican music along the US395 corridor, but I cannot.

Late year for the toms

Judging from the anecdotal information, it's been a late year for tomatoes for nearly everyone.

I just started picking my first pastes and cherries this week. There will be some beefsteak sized tomatoes (Black Russian, Zapotec) in a week. Same with the Jaune Flammees, which at the size of a golfball, don't qualify as cherries in my book.

Because we'll be gone for most of September, my sundried operation will be scaled back, unless I can convince some girlfriends to have a go at it.

My poor plants got fried in the last windstorms we had. The tender tips just shriveled in the hairdryer that is Bishop in summer. Fruitset is random in the 100 degree days we've been having, too. It's always going to be something. Still, I have some gorgeous tomatoes to look forward to and I have a freezer full of locally smoked streaky bacon, so I can't complain.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mothra came home to die

Yesterday, Desiree and Jemima were sitting on the couches. Desiree looked up at the window sill and said "Oh, please tell me that's a carving." It wasn't. It was Mothra in all its batsized glory. Mothra in my house to die.

The slight flicker of its wings would send me screaming, which in turn set Desiree and Jemima off. Our kids, who were watching TV in the other room, came in to check out the ruckus and Mothra and wandered back to "Go Diego, GO" unimpressed.

I knew Matty was coming home from his Split Mountain trip in a few hours, so I decided to stay scared and to keep Mothra around for him to see. It's bizarre. I can be brave when I need to be, but chickenshit is my standard MO.

Needless to say, Matty was duly impressed by its size.

Mothra didn't die overnight. So Matty did me the honors and sent it outside this morning.
Here it is looking dead (it's not) with legs up and right side up in its full winged glory. NB: I've included a dime for scale.

I had a lot of togetherness with Wyatt over the weekend. He's in a clingy stage, where even when Daddy's been away for a few days, I am the rockstar, servant, and adult of the house. I had enough togetherness, though, and spent last night alone in the tent in the yard. I pitched it Saturday so that the boy and I could "camp out" as special treat while Matty was out climbing Split.

Being alone, reading the New Yorker, not getting up in the night to fetch water or a snack, not dealing with a moth the size of a baby's head, was bliss.

The boy and I have a roadtrip down to LA Thursday for an appointment at Children's Hospital to sort out Wyatt's GERD (bad acid reflux). There is a Lew family reunion Saturday. My dad and Judydog are driving us down. Lord help me. I don't have any Xanax.

Dear God, if you exist, please let me be the kind daughter I should be. Please help me and my dad not be such freaks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I may be middle aged and middle class, but I have a white trash heart

As evidenced by pulling Wyatt through the McDonald's drive-thru in the free, but now heavily stained, kiddie bike trailer somebody gave us a few years back.

Daddy's away for work (one hour meeting in the Bay Area, talk about wasting money. Silly thing is, this house he's working on is a LEED project. Oh, the hypocrisy!) . So, Mommy, in her infinite wisdom, decided to buy the boy a hash brown (15 grams of nasty fatty carbs) to get him to school without there being a showdown. Because screaming 3 year old boys almost always win those.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Tyee Lake

Michelle Pettit called up and invited the boy and me to go for a wee hike and to get out of the heat and the smoke of the Valley. We chose the Tyee Lakes trail. Man, what was an easy hike two years ago, kicked my butt. Michelle was a star and carried Wyatt for a lot of the way.

The boy wasn't keen on hiking much that day. Said the mule poo in the trail was too jahjah (fake Cantonese slang for dirty). To be fair, he's not even 3 and a half yet, and he does give it a good try.

It was raining and cool when we got the trail head. We could see the dark storm clouds over by South Lake. Our hike was punctuated by thunderclaps in the distance. For a while, we could pretend we were in the Pacific Northwest or back East. The grasses and ferns were lush, the wildflowers were blooming, and Michelle even spotted four groups of mushrooms!

With the sinus/allergy thing, I hadn't been out to do a lick of exercise in donkey's years, so it was great to be out. Thanks Michelle!

Quote of the day: Upon hearing Michelle call him "Babbo," the boy says, "Don't call me Babbo. I'm Sucker Parasite." Oh, the years of therapy he'll need to undo all the nicknames.

Friday, July 11, 2008

We have a sack of Michel Cluizel couverture discs and two kinds of sea salt at the ready

So why the hell not make the chocolate chip recipe that is in this week's NYTimes' Top 10 articles?

Matty and Joel will come out of the backcountry bearing burritos (Inshallah) from the Big Pine Chevron.

I will be all domestic like and be bearing these.

Skandar's Apricot Tree - from the Hunza to our backyard

The tree, which we always refer to as "she", was started from a pit smuggled back by Skandar some twenty years ago, when he was a mountain guide spending most of his year in the Hunza Valley in Pakistan.

We found out about the provenance of the tree just after we bought this house. We'd just spent the better part of the last two years not working, but traveling around like vagabonds. We spent five weeks traveling along the Karakorum Highway in Pakistan, wending our way through the Hunza Valley to Kashgar, China, and back. We lived on dried apricots, which are a staple on the Highway.

The Hunzakut apricot tree in our backyard was kismet, and it was what facilitated our friendship with Skandar.

Every now and then, when Skandar needs to get back to basics, he has a visit with his tree.

In the winter, when I pop out of the sauna, I stand under the tree and look at the inky night sky through its sturdy latticework. It's a peaceful image to me.

Well, this year, the spring conditions were just right and presto, we are inundated with fruit. While the fruit are still on the dry side, they are starting to get the right combination of tart and sweet. We have been making trays of sun dried fruit everyday. Lucky us.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Pipe dreams and old people realities

I really wanted a yurt. There is that instant cred you get when you have one. But, upon looking at the pictures and videos of hippies and war reenactors and Burning Man burners using their yurts, I realized that there was no way in hell I could crawl around on my stomach like that. The sidewalls are only 2.5 feet high. I am old broad getting older by the minute. Plus, the detachable floors were a liability in our backyard, where Black Widow spiders the size of Shelob and "water bugs" hold court.

So, we went for the square, American Kodiak Canvas, which is a
knock off of the more expensive Springbow. It's stands 6'6" tall. All hail a dwelling for this granddaughter of homo erectus. Plus, I reckon I can comfortably house one or two touring Kiwi musicians in it if we ever fill up all the beds in the house.

If the Bay of Pigs (lager, Clamato, lime juice, spices) is the cocktail of the trailer, the Gin and Tonic will be the cocktail of the tent. Can't you see us holding court like a bunch of colonists under the awning?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Meatfest 2008

Well, we still have a clean record. Nobody got a case of food poisoning.* The girls threw in a turkey for good measure. It was the juiciest turkey we've ever had. Matty and I cleared the freezer out of a few tri tips, a leg of lamb, a corned beef, some slabs of pork ribs, and a slab of chicken breasts. Fruit salad also featured heavily. Bless.

The Hoegaarden keg blew.

The crowd was a bit more sedate than usual. We still had a handful of casualties who ventured into the party sauna (sauna not on) and ended up spending the night (and this was considered sedate :))

Jean-Michel and Lucie were up for the weekend and plied us with drinks and lovely things from the bakery we don't normally frequent because it's always a zoo in there.

We are still battling our sinus infections and are a bit low energy. Matt has got a hot date with Joel and some peaks in the backcountry this weekend. I have a hot date with a three year old.

* I am not counting the staph food poisoning the five adults of the household at the time got two years ago. That infection had nothing to do with Meatfest. I am still sad about missing the Shins and Belle and Sebastian show at the Hollywood Bowl (and hanging out with Erin) because of it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Stewing Tripe

I am Chinese, so what can I say? I love tripe. I am cooking it for the first time today. Yes, the house now smells a bit. Have gone for the Taiwanese version - stewed in stock, soy, rice wine, five spice, garlic, chili pod, and the like. Will serve it with some sesame oil and fresh cilantro.

Have eaten up the last of the Korean seasoned seaweed. Mmmm, seaweed sheets. I wish they weren't packaged so intensively.

Fruitset on my smaller tomato varieties has started. I have high hopes for Principe Borghese in the solar oven.