Thursday, January 29, 2009


Hey all you garage salers and thrift store shoppers, check out what my friend Nia does. You can see her work featured today (this piece above) on the Design*Sponge blog, which is an awesome blog in general. You can also see her work at, where you'll find she's done some insane, amazing designing and decorating. She's just brilliant.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My kids love this. You(rs) probably will too.
Use the force and click here.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Guess who raced in his first downhill competition?

Saturday was the kids' third day of a 6-week introductory course with MARA (Mt. Ashland Racing Association)--and look who chose to race the first race of the season!

Dane was excited to participate and ready to learn what had to be done. He got to race the giant slalom course twice, each time earning a 1 minute 50 second time. The second time he even took a big spill, but got up and stuck his ski back on in order to finish, which means he was cruisin'!

His classmates, who mostly chose not to race, stood on the sides cheering Dane on, shouting out how awesome he was. And, just so you understand the joy and generosity of that: the winner raced it in about 26 seconds and the average racer came in under a minute.

So, given that Dane had a great experience putting forth his personal best, you'll probably agree that he's pretty freakin' awesome, too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Our girl in the fall.

Monday, January 19, 2009

an unfortunate description, but only so called
likely due to its sugary tasty goodness
Pecan pie is Dr. MLK's favorite

I made this pie for the MLK potluck. It turned out fabulous, probably because if you add enough sugar and syrup to anything, it's bound to be great. (Look at the ingredients, you'll catch my drift.)

I used my mom's no-fail crust recipe, but you'll have to email me personally if you want that one.

Here's the freebie pecan pie recipe if you want it. It's pretty straightforward. Use it next year with pride.

4 eggs

1 1/4 c. southern cane syrup (or dark Karo)

1 1/2 c. broken or whole pecans

1 c. sugar

4 tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Boil sugar and syrup together 2 or 3 minutes. Beat eggs, not too stiff. Pour hot syrup in slowly, stirring. Add butter and vanilla. Put pecans in pie shell, pour syrup over top. Bake in moderate oven about 45 minutes or until set.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Netty's Brag Page - The Cousins Issue

My cousin, Lane, has four children, two children with Usher's II Syndrome. Children with this condition lose their sight and hearing typically by the age of 18. Lane and her husband, Todd, have faced this challenge with aplomb. They've created the Hear, See, Hope Foundation, hoping to find a cure by raising thousands and thousands of dollars for research with Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU). Here's the link to a Seattle KING-5 special that aired in December about local children experiencing something "For the First Time," where her infant boy, Dalton, receives cochlar implants and hears for the first time.

Mick's cousin, Andrew, who was a little fifth grader (I think) when I met him, is now an amazing and accomplished athlete. He swims competitively for Louisiana State University and was recently chosen to swim for the US Swim Team at the 18th World Maccabian Games in Israel. What a stud.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January 14 - Mark Your Calendar

Forget MLK, Jr. and all that business about equality and stuff. Why not focus on something really important, like finding a good pair of clogs for your gerbil, or knitting a nice vest for your ferret?

I don't have a pet, but if I did, tomorrow would be our day to shine. I think I'd put green rubbers on my pig.

Monday, January 12, 2009



Yes, yet another reason to love Ashland. What a great idea, an MLK potluck celebration. And our host isn't even from here -- she's a recent transplant from New Orleans. How cool is that?

Marigny (pronounced MARE-IN-KNEE), Aubrey's friend Nora's mom, is having a shin-dig in honor of the late great doctor on Friday.

I've decided I'm bringing a sweet Southern Pecan Pie, which I just learned was his favorite dessert. I've never made a pecan pie before, but, for The Doctor, I'll try.

In our three years living in Marin City, filled with the largest population of African Americans in Marin County, I never attended a potluck in MLK's honor. I wish I had. It probably would've opened my eyes to yet another layer of understanding regarding racial issues -- although I believe my friendships from my time there provide quite a bit of that. (Seeing the Tuskegee Airmen parade through our little community was unforgettable, too.)

You know what we're doing down here in Ashland to celebrate the life of a man who had a dream, why don't you let me leave you with a thought:

If you don't have dinner plans on Friday, why don't you join us by gathering some friends around your house and hosting a potluck in honor of a great man who had a vision for equality for all people?

If you do, let me know how it goes. You know I'll be eating a bowl of chicken gumbo from my "New" Orleans friend - and some kickin' good pecan pie.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Story of Love and Teeth

When asked what it's like to be married to a dentist, my first response is glib: I get razzed for being the only parent who sends their kid to a sleepover without a toothbrush; I have a school debt load as big as a house mortgage; and, I'm expected to have perfect teeth and even better breath, which, in my experience, is not necessarily always simultaneously possible.

But then there's the response that's not glib, but heartfelt -- as true as anything I've ever believed -- and the only way it can be expressed is to put it like this: I can't separate out my particular dentist guy from his dentist job. Together, they make him the dentist I'm married to.

Let me explain.

My particular dentist guy was once an unfulfilled manufacturing and plastics engineer who drew computerized pictures of a 737 airplane's wing rivets for The Boeing Company, and, later, designed waterski and wakeboard bindings for the likes of world class skier Andy Mapple for O'Brien Watersports. Cool enough stuff, to be sure, but that same engineer guy would come home disappointed that he'd sat at a machine all day and/or had only spoken to one or two other human beings -- about nothing that meant anything to him -- throughout the course of a day.

Then my particular engineer guy got laid off and couldn't find more engineering work and fixed houses as a contractor for six months -- and somewhere in there he observed his younger brother at work as a new dentist. There, he saw immediately how he, too, could use his hands, his head, and his heart all in one fell swoop: by being a dentist guy.

After watching his brother treat the whole person -- seeing how the mouth was the gateway to health for the rest of the body (doctor), watching his brother's hands move in intricate and detailed ways in a small space (engineer), and listening to the care, banter, and concern shared between patient and dentist (human being) -- he decided to make a career change.

He returned to college at 33, taking three years of pre-requisite classes from the school where he'd graduated seven years earlier. During his final quarter of pre-requisites, he filled out dental school applications, wrote a killer statement of intent (thank me very much), and earned himself a seat in the University of Pacific's three-year program, the only one of its kind in the nation.

After a mighty garage sale where we sold everything we could think to sell (mostly the quiver of free wakeboards he'd aquired) we packed up our 3-year-old and 4-year-old kids and moved ourselves to San Francisco for a life of school, loans, and part-time work.

We've never looked back.

School was challenging and scary -- after all, we'd put everything on the line to pursue this -- and sometimes the requirements felt elusive. But, in the end, it was fulfilling and thrilling.

My dentist guy, who's just bizarre enough to think it's funny that the time to go to the dentist is "Tooth Hurty," and who thinks Eugene Levy's nerdy dentist character in that Christopher Guest mockumentary, Waiting for Guffman, is highly quotable -- "People ask me if I was the class clown [smug nod]; I tell them, 'No, but I sat next to him, and I studied him' [smug nod followed by pathetic Johnny Carson impersonation]" -- comes home from work happy every day, deeply moved by the lives he's encountered.

Staying true to HIPAA's confidentiality code, he tells me no names or places, but his eyes water nearly each and every night as he tells me about hardship, victory, silliness, or gratitude he's seen or experienced in the mouths or lives of his patients. He never got that as an engineer. Granted, some engineers don't need it, and, admittedly, some engineers manage to get it somehow, but my guy needed something extra and dentistry is how he gets it.

So when he leans against the kitchen counter at age 41 and talks to me about his work with tears in his eyes, I'm very clear about this particular guy who loves his particular job, and I hone in on that soft smile. I hone in on his lovely, if slightly imperfect teeth and his occasionally bad breath, because, well, sometimes you just can't have it all -- but I know you can come close.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Dane Had A(nother) Dream

Dane woke up this morning, super excited to tell me that he'd just had a dream where he and his buddies (Logan, Avery, Eli, Jacob, Josh) were all chanting "All Hail George Lucas!" at some sort of "I Love Star Wars" rally. The kid was just beaming with happiness.

Monday, January 05, 2009

for grown-ups!

I used to LOVE reading contests as a kid. When that yearly reading sheet was handed out for the month-long tracking of books read, I would scan the rules immediately and start scheming about the ways I was going to fill that sheet up as fast and furiously as I could.

In primary grades, it probably started out with rules about picture books and page numbers, and I'd read the likes of Danny and the Dinosaur, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.

Next, I probably moved on to all those Beverly Cleary books, The Chronicles of Narnia, Judy Blume, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Shel Silverstein, and Roald Dahl.

I remember how much fun it was to devour books my teachers had introduced me to, or that I'd seen my friends reading--but it was also fun to discover other books, maybe obscure ones in the school library that Mr. Rodahl showed me, or something my mom picked up from a friend at work.

In fact, that's how I remember coming across some of my most memorable books: biographies. My mom's co-worker brought in a bunch of books her boys liked, and they were the life stories of famous people. Usually they were famous people I'd never heard of, so the introductions were exciting to me, and it was in those books that I learned about people overcoming amazing odds to make something of themselves, or people who had to have enormous courage when they figured out what they wanted to do.

In those pages, I met Willie Mays, Eleanore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Helen Keller, and Amelia Earhart, and I lived for hours on end hunched up on a corner of the couch, bearing witness to their greatness and feeling like there could maybe even be a possibility for my own.

I didn't know it then, but book contests were all about exposure -- being exposed to all different kinds of ideas and people and events -- and they were all about time. They were all about honoring the act of reading -- of tuning out the rest of the world and entering another.

Okay, so why am I getting all nostalgic about these reading fests right now? Well, because after, say, 6th grade, I don't think I ever got to publicly try to read as many books as possible ever again. (Obtaining my Masters came close with gargantuan lists of great literature, but I had to analyze and regurgitate those for tests -- and so a bit of the joy was, let's say, compromised.)

And now my kids take part in these fun summer reading programs at the library where they get fancy pencils or pizza certificates or stickers when they fill a sheet of paper with books we read, and I have to admit I'm jealous of the little turkeys. I want the challenge! I want to make a list and get a prize! I want more exposure and honored time!

Alas, my dream's come true. I never told a soul, but somehow the book fairies read my mind and here at my new library, the Jefferson County Public Library, is a reading contest for adults for the month of January!

The goal isn't to read as many as possible, necessarily, but to read 5 books -- and this sheet of paper has this fabulous numbered list of lines for "author" and "book title." At the bottom is a simple questionnaire asking which book I liked best and why.

When I'm finished, I won't get a sticker or anything, but I will get to enter my questionnaire and submit it for a drawing, and maybe, just maybe I'll win a prize!

I have no idea what the prize is, but who cares? Folks, it's enough that it's a reading contest and I'm a contender.

Books I've started or am planning to read:
1. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon (630 pages)
2. The Centaur, by John Updike
3. The Story of Edward Sawtelle, by David Wroblewsky

And 4 and 5 just might be amazing biographies my mom is going to bring home from work for me.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


This photo isn't meant to be some sort of metaphor for the new year - or the old one, for that matter - although if that works for you, feel free to embrace it.

No, this photo begs the question:

Does anyone else have this problem with poinsettias?

I mean, I love 'em and pet 'em and name 'em George -- and look what happens.

I just don't understand,...